Brandi Carlile and her band, accompanied by new drummer Allison Miller, walked onto the Chautauqua Auditorium stage at 9:30 p.m. after the Noises 10, the opening act from Charlotte, N.C., had played for an hour. Carlile had earlier made an appearance to sing a duet with Jason Scavone on “My Repair,” Noises’ most palatable song and one well-suited for Carlile’s self-styled genre of Kentucky Ozark Mountain folk-country-bluegrass-rock by way of Maple Valley, Wash. Watching her come out early was a pleasant surprise for the sold-out audience inside the 1,200 seat capacity historic auditorium.
Carlile opened with “Oh Dear” from her new record, “Give Up the Ghost.” Sung in an acoustic circle, the style of the new material is a striking departure from her self-titled debut and the follow-up, “The Story.” The song’s tone, lyrics, and harmonies were reminiscent of the 1926 classic, “Tonight You Belong to Me.”
On their second show of the tour promoting the new record, Carlile kept a rolling dialogue going with the audience throughout the night — stories of where she came from, meaning behind the lyrics of her songs, her influences and heroes. She’s come a long way from playing an opener at Boulder’s Fox Theatre to 60 people. Three years ago she opened at Chautauqua for the Indigo Girls. Last summer she opened for Sheryl Crow at Red Rocks. Brandi is no longer an opening act after headlining this sold-out show.
“Amberly” “Happy” and “Dreams” found Carlile’s voice rising in perfect pitch through the auditorium outside to the ticketless crowd sitting on blankets. She told a story of meeting Elton John who recorded a duet with her for the new record on “Caroline.”