The City Winery, Chicago welcomed Vanessa Carlton and opening act, Joshua Hyslop, for an intimate night of great music.
Joshua Hyslop did an excellent job of warming up the Chicago crowd, building a great rapport with everyone. It was simply executed set – one guy up there on his own singing great songs – with a beautiful, melodic voice combined with some elegant guitar playing. It is so rare these days to find a singer songwriter who can hold everyone’s full attention for the duration of a performance, but Joshua managed just that.
The City Winery is a different type of live music venue. It perfectly creates the intimate setting which can’t help but evoke the storyteller in the performer, encouraging them to tell you the history and background to their songs. This night was no exception – both Joshua and Vanessa took time between each song to chat about their inspirations.
By the time Vanessa took to the stage, the Chicago audience were eager for her turn and she certainly did not disappoint. Vanessa had huge success so early on in her career, with “A Thousand Miles”, a song which she clearly still embraces, as did the crowd who cheered and sang along when she performed it. That one song did not, however, overshadow the rest of her body of work. The rest of her set stood up there shoulder-to-shoulder with the classic song. She performed a large number of songs from her current album, ‘Liberman’, which she named after her mother and grandfather’s real last name. These songs are a slight change in direction for Vanessa, but the change has paid off with the new songs still anchored by the piano but against a more electronic backdrop. Vanessa’s voice has definitely matured and sounds fuller and more rounded on the new songs and, performing live, her vocals were flawless.
The songs were performed by Vanessa and her fiddle playing companion, who also took responsibility for triggering backing tracks for the Liberman songs along with providing some some guitar backing as well. The resulting sound was way bigger than the two of them. Again, it was simply done, but extremely effective. Artists have to be masters of their craft to perform their music in this kind of stripped down format and neither Joshua or Vanessa fell short on the night.
The tour continues on through North America and Canada through until the beginning of February 2016, so be sure to check them out when they come to your town.