The Watson Twins – Duke University, Durham, NC

by Daniel Bayer

November 1, 2008 – Duke University, Durham, NC

One of the things I like most about going to see a musician I’ve heard of is the possibility of being impressed by the previously-unknown-to-me opening act (Call me crazy, but I’ve always thought that Living Color blew the Rolling Stones off the stage when I saw them together on the Steel Wheels tour in ’89.). The Watson Twins didn’t eclipse headliner Billy Bragg at the Page Auditorium on the Duke Campus, but they certainly held their own.

Touring behind their first full-length CD, “Fire Songs,” the sisters hit the stage dressed in black and accompanied by keyboardist Jason Borger, who added colors of honky-tonk piano and churchy organ to Chandra and Leigh’s harmonies, guitar and harmonica. The seven-song set covered a lot of stylistic ground, from the Stone-sy swing of “Bar Woman Blues” to the Muscle Shoals R&B feel of “Southern Manners,” the title track from their 2006 debut EP. Even without a full band the songs retained their individual identity, a testament to the twins’ power to put across their well-crafted tunes. And their cover of the Cure’s “Just like Heaven” beats Dinosaur Jr.’s hands down.

I really liked the Watson Twins, and wished that they had played a bit longer. They later returned to the stage during Bragg’s encore and joined him for “Sing Their Souls Back Home,” a track from his latest release, “Mr. Love & Justice,” which was the perfect way to end the evening.

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