Juliana Hatfield @ World Café Live downstairs, Philadelphia

Despite being a self-proclaimed last minute addition to the bill, Greg Laswell held the World Café Live dinner crowd rapt with the somber yet beautiful songs that have come to represent him.

His demeanor wasn’t all serious, though. Sitting at the piano, Laswell announced he would play a cover song and launched into Richard Marx‘s “Right Here Waiting For You.” The audience audibly expressed its confusion and Laswell stopped to let everyone know he was joking with that tune before playing the most mellow version of Cyndi Lauper‘s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” known to the music world.

Following the the upbeat “How The Day Sounds,” it’s no surprise to hear that Laswell sold out of records while extensively touring the nation. He ended an excellent set with “High And Low” and thanked Hayden for letting him use their piano so he didn’t have to bring his keyboard on the train down from New York before ducking off stage for the next performance.

Greg Laswell

Greg Laswell

The beginning of Hayden’s set was very mellow as namesake and front man Paul Hayden Desser seemed to slur the lyrics of his mellow rock grooves making them indecipherable. Despite garbed words, the lovely tunes that emanated from the rest of the band made up for it. Desser, at times, urged the crowd to follow band mate Dale Murray‘s clapping patterns throughout the entirety of “Where and When” otherwise they would “mess it up.” The audience obliged and the echo of the clapping throughout the room was very cool.

Not a one trick groove pony, Hayden whipped up a combination of fun beats and throbbing bass lines, the latter of which contrasted beautifully with a light twinkling on the xylophone. The whole of the set often seemed like a long jam session for the four on stage, which was mostly welcomed as Murray was phenomenal on the guitar (making great use of the whammy bar) and Desser got lost in the music and later made the harmonica the sexiest instrument in existence.

Hayden

Hayden

The night’s main attraction was public radio darling Juliana Hatfield. Hatfield received wild applause as she took the stage with the four members of her backing band. Her vocals are distinct and beautiful as she plays a brand of pop rock whose upbeat music masks its often unhappy lyrical content, especially on songs such as “My Baby…” on which she sings, “my baby doesn’t love me anymore / I just know.”

Played a great deal of music off her newest record How To Walk Away, it seemed that the most intricate of the guitar parts were played by Hatfield’s backing guitarist rather than herself. Despite a potential lack of technical skill, Hatfield won me over with sweet stage banter saying of her album, “this new album is pretty good, I mean, if you’ve heard it. [pause] If I do say so myself.”

For many a song, the crowd pulled out cell phones to call friends for songs with special meaning while others used their point and shoots to film entire songs. Though the set was mostly lovely, about halfway through, songs began running into each other and everything started to sound the same. The one highlight after the halfway point was a “cover” of a Some Girls song, a band Hatfield used to perform in prior to going solo.

Another highlight was an impromptu rendition of “Silent Night, Holy Night” as Hatfield tuned her guitar. My favorite song of the set was “Just Lust,” a ditty about the woman being unattached in a purely sexual relationship: “I get so fatigued / by these long emotional relationship talks. / I’d really much prefer / my own company most of the time. / I never said, ‘I can’t live without you baby’ / I just said, ‘you look good tonight.'” Another highlight was a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival‘s “Bad Moon Rising.”

Overall, Juliana Hatfield’s performance was lovely and enjoyable. She has a string of West Coast dates before heading over to the United Kingdom for a brief stint so catch a set if she heads your way and pick up a copy of How To Walk Away.

Juliana Hatfield: website | myspace
Hayden: website | myspace | live review
Greg Laswell: myspace | download “The One I Love” | live review | Three Flights From Alto Nido review

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One Response

  1. […] Juliana Hatfield: website | myspace | blog | live in Phila. […]

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