by Matt Kelchner
On Saturday night Marissa Nadler took the trip down I-95 from her current residence in the Boston area to Johnny Brenda’s to help celebrate the release of her latest album, July. Despite being somewhat under the weather, Nadler still wowed the crowd with her passionate and personal performance.
Arriving just before Jeff Zeigler and Mary Lattimore took to the stage, I unfortunately missed the first opener Zachary Cale. As I walked into the main concert room at Johnny Brenda’s, the outline of a rather large harp took my eye immediately. Zeigler and Lattimore created beautiful sweeping sonic textures while playing together. Lattimore was in control of the giant harp while Zeigler took seat behind his own mini keyboard world. The swells of beats built up upon layer after layer of synth lines established the perfect environment for Lattimore, whose delicate plucking led the way for the melody. It was a combination that I personally did not expect to ever hear but am glad I came early to catch.
Marissa Nadler took to the stage in matching black dresses with her only other band member, a celloist/keyboardist who also provided backing vocals. She mentioned early on in her set that she was battling a cold but if you listened to any of her songs, you could not tell. Nadler’s soaring vocals singing the lines of deep, heartfelt lyrics were center stage Saturday night. The accompanying cello and keyboard lines provided a subtle, stripped down texture that only added the close, personal feel of the night.
Nadler ended up playing nine songs throughout the night and all but one came from her new album. She kicked things off with one of the singles she released prior to the album, “Dead City Emily”. Songs like “Firecrackers”, “1923” and “I’ve Got Your Name” left the crowd in awe. During her set, she also played the other single, the more recently released “Was It A Dream”. Nadler ended the night with a deeper selection. As she began playing, the crowd quickly knew the song. Nadler reached back to her debut album, Ballads of Living and Dying, and the first song from it, “Fifty Five Falls”. There could have been no better way to end the night than paying homage to her beginnings.
Nadler quietly went off stage following the song as it appeared her illness may have finally caught up to her. Nevertheless, the crowd was more than pleased with her performance and led her off with cheers and applause. Nadler showcased the strengths of her new album and left a desirable taste in fans Saturday night, both new and old.