I was a big fan of the folk-rock duo The Indigo Girls during the 1990s (arguably their most creative period), but Tuesday evening at Cahn Auditorium in Evanston was the first time I saw them in concert, and it was as good as I hoped.
Amy Ray and Emily Saliers have been recording and touring all these years and have built an impressive catalog of music to share with us. Their concert mixed newer songs and fan favourites. I especially appreciated early classics like "Closer to Fine", "Galileo", and "Power of Two". I was disappointed not to hear some of my personal favourites, such as "Least Complicated" and their cover of "I Don't Wanna Talke About It", but I was not unsatisfied with their selection.
The Georgia natives met in elementary school, began playing together in high school, and formed The Indigo Girls in college. Decades later, they still sound good. Amy has always boasted the deeper, rougher voice, while Emily's was higher and gentler. Amy's vocal cords remain strong, while Emily has lost some range over the years, but it is when they harmonize that they sound their best. The two alternate singing lead and when they harmonize it is sometimes together and sometimes with one singing a countermelody to complement the main melody sung by her partner. Both work well, but they execute the melody/countermelody thing to perfection. They sound like friends who have been playing together for decades.
Ray and Saliers have long been advocates of the rights of women, LGBTQ, and other unrepresented groups and their audience reflected this support. The crowd was easily 75% female and many sported clothing with activist messages. Recent events in the US brought a more specific meaning to some of their songs and more passion from the crowd as they sang along. The band did not preach, but they let us know they are on our side.
The two were joined onstage by violinist Lyris Hung, who brought both talent and energy to her performance; and by Lucy Wainwright Roche, who also served as the warmup act, charming the audience with self-deprecating stories between songs. No drummer performed with the band, and she was not missed. The guitars provided all the rhythm necessary.
It was an unforgettable evening.