Live Review: Dar Williams


Dar Williams
The Fillmore at Irving Plaza
September 27, 2008
By David Chiu

There’s something genuine and charming about the persona of singer/songwriter Dar Williams not only on record but onstage as well. It was especially evident by her performance in New York City that was comforting and reassuring throughout.

With her band mates—percussionist Everett Bradley and keyboardist Bryn Roberts—Williams performed songs from her back catalog and material from her latest album Promised Land. Experienced fans would have probably been able to distinguish the older and newer songs and might have wished for a favorite to be performed. But for those like me who saw her play for the first time, it was a very consistent mix of songs—they just blended well together. The songs from Promised Land were really good in the live setting, such as “It’s Alright,” “Buzzer,” and “You Are Everyone.” They, along with the older songs like “Blue Light of the Flame, “Echoes,” and the closing “The Babysitter’s Here,” alternated the evening’s mood between the cheery and the subdued. (Shawn Mullins, who was the opening act, joined onstage with Williams for two numbers).

See Williams perform live makes one realize also what a fine guitar player she is, aside from having a bell-like, exquisite voice. It’s also a reflection of her folksy personality in which she engaged in humorous banter with the audience in between songs for the almost the entire evening. And her backing musicians were really good as well from Bradley’s percussion solo on one track, and Roberts’ earthy-sounding keyboard playing adding atmosphere.

Dar Williams is a first-rate performer and it’s hard to come away not feeling something hopeful or fulfilling after a show from her.

Set list
1. The Easy Way
2. Spring Street
3. Farewell to the Old Me
4. It’s Alright
5. Book of Love
6. Blue Light of the Flame
7. Buzzer
8. The Christians and the Pagans
9. The Hudson
10. Echoes
11. As Cool As I Am
12. You Are Everyone
13. Midnight Radio
14. Mercy of the Fallen
15. Summerday (encore)
16. The Babysitter’s Here (encore)

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