in performance: indigo girls

emily saliers and amy ray of idigo girls.

emily saliers and amy ray of indigo girls.

Time was when an Indigo Girls concert around these parts would be as much about the audience as the two unaccompanied folk stylists onstage. With a very devout and heavily female fanbase schooled enough on their songs to sing entire verses back to the duo on command, an Indigos show was often as festive as a full blown rock ‘n roll outing.

Well, guess what? Absolutely nothing has changed.

Last night at the Kentucky Theatre, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers played the part of folk-pop tag team, switching off songs that shifted vocal colors (Ray’s deeper toned, more conversational leads with Saliers’ higher, richer and more overtly dramatic singing) and stylistic sentiments (Ray’s demonstrative Yield with Saliers’ more emancipating Run). Except for instances where the Northern California trio Coyote Grace (the evening’s show opener) joined them to create an unexpectedly Appalachian country air for Gone Again, Get Out the Map and the show closing staple Closer To Fine, the Indigos performed alone with only guitars and the occasional mandolin or banjo as support devices.

And to that, the near capacity crowd went wild. It quickly flooded into the aisles, sang rapturously along with most songs and greeted Ray and Saliers with such vocal glee that the veteran duo seemed genuinely surprised.

‘There’s great energy in here,” Ray remarked. And indeed there was.

Sometimes the fervor settled, as when newer or more obscure works were presented, like 2009’s What Are You Like? (with a neo-Cuban accent that brought some of Stephen Stills’ forgotten solo work to mind) and the genuine rarity Devotion (resurrected on the duo’s new live album Staring Down the Brilliant Dream).

But when the repertoire fell to more familiar, early ‘90s works later in the program that included the summery Power of Two and the set closing Galileo (the later was fortified nicely by Coyote Grace multi-instrumentalist Michael Connolly on violin), the audience mood became almost carnival like.

Ray and Saliers stayed the course for the 1 ¾ hour performance, presenting often reserved backdrops for their story-songs. For the unexpectedly rabid crowd, though, this was an evening of very vocal adulation. Sure, the Indigos were as unassumingly folky as ever at heart. But given the hero worship that never dissipated during the show, the two might as well as been fully licensed rock stars.

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