Cincinnati’s Over the Rhine has played all kinds of Lexington venues over the years, from no frills outdoor shows in Thoroughbred Park to packed nights at The Dame and the Kentucky Theatre. But never has a local setting been as complimentary to the band’s pop-folk charm as Natasha’s Bistro was last night.
With kitchen, bar and audience chatter largely absent, an environment for active listening was established that Over the Rhine’s husband-and-wife founders Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler greatly benefited from.
That’s not to say the full quintet lineup didn’t modestly rock out at times. Don’t Wait for Tom, a merry ode to hipster Tom Waits, had Bergquist hammering a cookie sheet for droll percussive effect while utility man Kenny Hutson summoned a nicely jagged electric guitar break that recalled one time Waits henchman Marc Ribot. Similarly, Who’m I Kiddin’ But Me accorded round robin solos to all members, including a cheery bashing bout from drummer Mickey Grimm.
With the exception of the show-closing All I Want is Everything, the entire 85 minute concert whittled Over the Rhine’s 20 year career down to music recorded and released between 2003 and 2007. But such a marginalized repertoire still yielded all kinds of quiet delights, from the ghostly meditations within Ohio to the subtle and spirited rhumba Trouble to the plaintive country accents that unfolded during the show-opening Born.
Such performance intimacy seemed to honestly delight artists and audience patrons alike.