We first saw Brandi Carlisle in 2006, at a club in Raleigh. Just her and her guitar, and her army jacket. She opened for Shawn Colvin, and I remember it being very sparsely attended – like maybe 100 people. But, I wrote, at the time:
She’ll be big someday. She should be big already.
Then we saw her again in 2009, at a small theater in Carborro – maybe 300 people. She’d added two guys as her backing band (tall, bald, twins). They’d been part of her band and songwriting team from the beginning, but that time they got to tour with her too.
This time, we saw her at the largest theater in Raleigh. It’s about 200 yards from the place we first saw her, but it has more than 2,200 seats. And she (very nearly) sold it out. So, she’s big now. And deservedly so.
Her – “their”, actually; she said it’s more like a band called “Brandi Carlisle”) – their, new record is a bit different than their earlier records. There are fewer simple folky acoustic tunes, and a lot more muscle: big loud anthems and clap-along stadium-pleasers. For me, the bigger songs all worked much better on stage than the recorded versions do. I suspected they might; since they seem designed to be played live.
They played the entire new record, nothing from the first record, and just two songs from the second.
She had a seven piece band behind her, including the twins, a string trio, a drummer and a keyboard/horn player. There was a light show, and an Elton John cover. And the opener, the always-great Brandy Clarke, came out to do a duet of “Stand By Your Man”. So, it was a full production. And it was a very good one. Good for her / them!