My first Civil Wars experience was a little over two years ago, when the duo of John Paul White and Joy Williams dropped into Cicero’s as the opening act for the Kentucky piano-pop group Seabird. There were probably less than 50 people there that night, so it’s incredible to see the progress made with each subsequent visit. Last year, there was the sold-out show at the Old Rock House. This time, the folk duo had no problems selling out the Pageant months in advance and the seated crowd that evening was in for a captivating treat.
Our buddy Jason at Encor.es was raving before the show about The Staves, a trio of sisters from London. Where they lack in currently available material (only their three-song Mexico EP), they easily make up for in understated melodies and beautiful harmonies. Think Mountain Man, swapping out the Portland-nature vibe with a refined sensibility.
As for the fantastic set by the Civil Wars, where should we start? Was it the cover of the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Disarm?” Was it how the pair was dressed like they accidentally wandered off of the Golden Globes red carpet? Was it the blistering performance of “Barton Hallow” that gave us chills? How about the fact that the audience gave White and Williams a standing ovation only after a few songs? All of the above, and more.
It was a rare evening where seated attendants ceased side conversations and you had to whisper your order at the bar. (Even doors to the bathroom were kept closed.) It was a night to be patient and get rewarded with every vocal interplay or bluesy kick. No flash or tricks. Just a guy, girl and guitar completely owning the stage.
-Does anyone else get reminded of Garth and Kat when John and Joy play off of each other?