Review: Gloriana, The Blue Note (Columbia, Missouri) – 12/9/09

For a band as media-savvy as country quartet Gloriana (now a quintet with the addition of bassist Zack Brindisi), and one that has done a pretty excellent job of conquering Twitter and YouTube, it seems only fitting that their show at The Blue Note in Columbia, Mo. would begin with the audience whipping out their digital cameras to record photos (presumably for TwitPic-ing) and video footage for YouTube.
After seeing the group perform live, it’s no secret why they were bestowed with the honor of Breakthrough Artist of the Year at the American Music Awards. They know how to work a crowd: audience banter, committed performing, killer harmonies, the works.
The group frequently interacted with the audience, with singers Rachel Reinert and Cheyenne Kimball introducing songs like “You Said” by asking the ladies in the crowd if they’d experienced similar romantic trials and tribulations. Kimball wowed the crowd with her voice –– it’s always amazing how such a powerful voice can come from a singer of small stature.
It’s clear that despite their age and digital adaptation, the members of Gloriana know their roots, and not just in country, either. Throughout the set, classic rock jams like Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” and Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” were interpolated into original songs for a fun, energetic live mash-up effect, in a way a culmination of the way pop music has been operating over the past decade.
In addition to songs off the album, the group performed several well-chosen covers of crowd-pleasing standards, including the Doobie Brothers’ “Black Water,” the Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider” and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.” All three had the audience bellowing along with every word and grooving to the beat, and I couldn’t help but smile as the drunken, raw voices mixed with the group’s powerful harmonizing on the refrain of “Black Water.”
Though the group brought equal parts exuberance and introspection to the songs off their debut album (“Time to Let Me Go” was a highlight, with Reinert’s voice taking on a sultry quality reminiscent of Stevie Nicks) and chose covers that were definite crowd-pleasers, I was left wanting to hear a little bit more original material, including maybe a new song or two.
The group ended their main set with the now-ubiquitous “Wild At Heart,” and the audience broke it down, stomping and clapping and shouting back the lyrics for what can only be described as a Hoedown 2.0. After the final round of cheers began to dwindle, a group of fist-pumping country bros next to us began chanting for the band to cover Alabama’s “Dixieland Delight.” Clearly, this is an upgrade from “Free Bird.”
In keeping with the knowing their roots theme, the band ended with a cover, this time of the Pure Prairie League’s “Amie.” The last held note on “Amie,” that perfect, exquisite country harmony, was full of electricity, a high-energy current running down the spines of everyone in the audience.
Hey, Gloriana ––  y’all come back now, y’hear?


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