Margaret Glaspy at Bowery Ballroom
by Carter Shelter on March 01, 2017
Photo by Justin Filpes
Margaret Glaspy is not to be underestimated. If her studio output, which includes multiple EPs and last year’s excellent debut full-length, didn’t have you convinced, then her live show will. Her filled-to-the-brim Bowery Ballroom set saw her show off her knack for concise pop tunes alongside an ability to mine remarkable depths of emotion, sometimes out of just a single note. Her voice is one that immediately draws you in, and the same charming, direct, self-assured quality you hear on her albums comes to life when Glaspy is on stage. Whether she’s whipping her hair while she and her band rock out, or forcing the audience into stunned silence with an intimate ballad, she holds a command over the stage that’s always present.
At her Bowery show, Glaspy took the stage wearing a “War Is Over! If You Want It” t-shirt, and kicked off the proceedings with a rapid-fire run of songs. The dark, jazzy “Love Like This” and the stomping groove of “Pins and Needles” quickly set the mood with Glaspy’s guitar loud and up-front. She followed with a beautiful “Somebody to Anybody”, and similarly tender performance of the folky “You’re Smiling (But I Don’t Believe You)” . But if ever a concert had a tear-jerker, it was Glaspy’s rendition of Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor.” The way she fully inhabited the heartbreak in the lyric to deliver a stunning vocal over a pared down guitar was something to behold. Glaspy was quick to pick the energy back up with a dance-inducing “Emotions and Math.” She then invited jazz guitarist Julian Lage to the stage, and he delivered knockout solos on another pair of tracks. She closed things out with the infectious “You and I,” which the crowd couldn’t resist singing along to.
“Ex-Factor” wasn’t Glaspy’s only instance of paying homage to her influences. She dropped a cover of Lucinda Williams’ “Fruits of My Labor” into her set, and had come out with openers Cuddle Magic for a surprising rendition of “The Temptation of Adam,” one of Josh Ritter’s finest. For her encore, she kept the theme going, starting out with Björk’s “Who Is It” and translating the experimental arrangement of the original into a more immediate, rocking and sometimes funky version that Glaspy sunk her teeth into with glee. She followed it up by bringing Lage back out for a version of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” that had the pair displaying gorgeous chemistry in their guitar work. Lines would wind around each other, occasionally meeting up only to slip apart again. Lage would craft swirling textures around Glaspy’s voice, which simmered and soared throughout the hall, and then the two would meet back up, with the song’s gentle guitar hook remaining in fans heads long after the show was over.
Authors: Carter Shelter