Photos: Indigo Girls at the Denver Botanic Gardens, 8-4-13 - Reverb

Indigo Girls, Von Grey at Denver Botanic Gardens, 8-4-13 (photos, review)

Something is up if the Indigo Girls are playing “The Wood Song,” “Mystery,” “Reunion” and “This Train Revised” – all songs from 1994’s excellent “Swamp Ophelia,” often ignored in live sets – in one single concert in 2013.

The tour bringing Amy Ray and Emily Saliers through Colorado this week (including Saturday at the Mishawaka, Sunday at the Denver Botanic Gardens and Monday at Chautauqua) seems a bit “Ophelia”-heavy, and thankfully so. But why?

Our best guess as we sat on the Denver Botanic Gardens’ gentle grass slope on an idyllic, if cloudy and occasionally sprinkling Sunday night was because they’re touring with an incredible fiddle player, thus enabling them to play those songs as they were meant to be heard.

Nobody was complaining on Sunday night. The first half of the Indigo Girls’ DBG show was one of the tightest and brightest sets of music in recent memory, and the setlist – from “Three Hits” to “Sugar Tongue,” “Shame on You” to “Get Out the Map,” “Compromise” to “Watershed” – was unstoppable. The Girls are known to back off their mics for especially vocal crowds, and they handed over the singing to the crowd four or five times on Sunday.

Things slowed a bit in the second half, but Ray and Saliers brought it back to a potent ending that included the expected ancient hits, “Galileo” (21 years old) and “Closer to Fine” (24 years old) included, and more unexpected inclusions.

The Matthew Shepard-inspired “Laramie,” off Ray’s first solo album “Stag,” was haunting, especially in such geographical proximity to the Wyoming university town. And the cover of Charlie Daniels Band’s “Devil Went Down to Georgia” from these Georgia girls ripped the crowd to its feet, making it all the more endearing when Ray forgot the lyrics in the second verse.

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Ricardo Baca is the founder and executive editor of Reverb, the co-founder of The UMS and an award-winning critic and editor at The Denver Post.

John Leyba is a Denver Post photojournalist and regular contributor to Reverb.