Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Juliana Hatfield @ the Brattle Theatre, 9/14

Boston area native Juliana Hatfield performed at the cozy Brattle Theatre last Sunday night in Cambridge.

Canadian folk rocker Hayden opened, and his easy nature quickly made him a favorite with the crowd. He and his band played through a balanced set of ballads and more uptempo rock numbers. Highlights include the full audience partipation on "Where and When," a well told (and hilarious) story from the road, and some great solos.

Juliana Hatfield took the stage around a quarter to 11 to quite an ovation. She started out a bit stiff as she seemed to feel out the hometown crowd: a blend of older folks who had grown up with Hatfield in contrast with young people relatively new to (but just as enamored with) her music. About halfway through, she asked for the stage lights to be turned down—a turning point in the night. What followed was a change in mood; she relaxed and began to take more liberties with her songs and voice. It was then clear that Hatfield had found her comfort zone among us in the intimate theater.

She played through much of How to Walk Away, her latest, and included some older material that drew appreciative, nostalgic applause. The setlist left something to be desired, though that seems inevitable, as it would be impossible to sufficiently cover 20 years and 10 full albums worth of great music in one night. Still, Hatfield delivered, especially during her solo encore in which she played the classic "My Sister" and an inspired "Law of Nature."

It takes a dedicated group of music fans to put their entertainment second to the musician's attitude toward a performance, but such thoughtfulness seems to be the order of the day for Juliana Hatfield fans. Between songs lived a silence that only the highest regard and respect can command; it stemmed from a shared eagerness to somehow convey our unwavering loyalty and support for someone whom we want so badly to just smile! So we collectively held our breaths for the alt. rock phenomenon and notorious loner before us when emphatic cheering wasn't in fashion, and crossed all our fingers.

- Jessy Bartlett

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