Live review: Rosanne Cash @ Denver Botanic GardensBy Jeremy Simon | August 1st, 2011 | 1 Comment »
For an upmarket crowd on a perfect evening in the heart of the highly manicured Denver Botanic Gardens, Rosanne Cash performed a highly manicured set of songs Friday evening that featured nary an off note or a rough patch. Cash’s voice, backed by a five-piece band, flowed easily. She was “a river with a voice,” to quote a lyric from “Wheel,” one of the songs she performed.
The dark, heartbroken subject matter of Cash’s songs sharply contrasted the surface beauty that surrounded her. I suppose it’s unsurprising that Cash sees more clearly in the darkness, as her father was the Man in Black. If sadness is a gift, as has been said, then every day is Christmas for Rosanne Cash.
In the first half of her set, Cash drew heavily on songs from “The List” — her 2009 album of covers, drawn from a list of “100 Essential Country Song”s that Johnny Cash had given her. And so far-flung songs such as “Sea of Heartbreak,” “Girl from the North Country” and “Miss the Mississippi and You” wafted over the Denver flowers, sung nostalgically by Cash as if a cabaret torch singer representing Cole Porter in a New York club.
But this was hardly a mourn-fest: the scene didn’t call for one. The vocal and aesthetic beauty were matched by the beauty of Cash’s band. Among her mates was guitarist John Leventhal — an outstanding sound sculptor whose modest, tasteful fills made every song coming off the Gardens stage sound a little more heavenly. Leventhal happens to be married to Cash. Tempting as it is to hope for the lyrical possibilities Cash might reap from another emotional breakup … a match with Leventhal is, as a listener at least, one made in heaven.
Jeremy Simon is a Lafayette freelance writer and regular contributor to Reverb.