December 7, 2009

Live Review: Drew O’Doherty // The Painted Lights // Elliott Brood

Drew O'Doherty

T.T. the Bear’s // Cambridge, MA // Nov. 18, 2009

A last minute addition to the night’s lineup, Cambridge singer-songwriter Drew O’Doherty warmed up the evening with a solo acoustic set. Somewhere between that of James Taylor and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, his voice lends an honest and sincere quality to his music. It felt more appropriate for a coffee shop environment than a rock set at T.T.’s (he was even sipping tea between songs), but it was enjoyable. I would love the chance to see him with a backing band.

The Painted Lights

Watching Boston locals the Painted Lights, I couldn’t help but feel that I caught them on a bad night. The set felt unbalanced in energy and delivery. Lead singer and guitarist Brendan Little sings with great emotion and, when he allowed himself to belt it out, the music was really compelling. Ross Lohr’s powerful drumming too, brings a lot to the Painted Lights sound. In slower songs, or when Little was drowned out, the music felt flat. The lack of passion displayed by the bassist and second guitarist was distracting as well. I’d like to see all four band members adjust their passion and energy to meet Little on his level. That would bring out the best of his singing and give the band more solid stage presence.

The Painted Lights

The Canadian headliners, Elliott Brood, were as charming as they were talented, buttering up the crowd with talk about their Boston adventures and handing out plates and wooden spoons to allow for audience participation on the percussion parts. With fast guitar, banjo, harmonica and rough, loud vocals, their music might be a good soundtrack to an adventure film about train hopping. They also get style points for dressing up in black suits and framing the drummer in a DIY light show made of Christmas-tree lights and red-tinted clamp lamps.

-Noelle Janka; photos by Wyatt Posig