Friday, November 12, 2021

Live Shows: Aaron Lee Tasjan and Tristen, Brighton Music Hall, Allston, MA 11/10/21

Photo via Facebook

I discovered both Aaron Lee Tasjan and Tristen opening up for other artists. Tasjan was opening for Margo Price back in 2018 and Tristen opened for Justin Townes Earle way back in 2012. I hadn't been able to see either since, and considering both released albums this year that will most likely be in my top ten of the year, I simply couldn't miss this double bill.

I've been desperately wanting to see Tristen again for the past nine years, but she rarely makes it up to the Boston area, and the couple of times she has it just hasn't worked out for me. This was a stripped down show with just Tristen and her husband Buddy Hughen on vocals and guitar. Considering how much her sound has expanded in the nine years I've been listening to her, it was great to hear her songs stripped down to just guitar and vocals. Despite having a fantastic brand new album to promote, Tristen played a career spanning set that opened with "Matchstick Murder" from 2014's Charlatans at the Garden Gate. Along with her songs, Tristen joked between songs, thanking the audience for coming out after the pandemic but also during the pandemic, and about how musicians are travelling salespeople and the performance is a live demonstration of their product. She even "tried" to get the audience to engage in a singalong of the chorus of "Psychic Vampire," which is "Psychic Vampire / Dreaming of an empire / Is the only beholder /  You will only annoy her / And you'll never get to know a lonely destroyer." If musicians are selling themselves, Tristen succeeded quite well.

Aaron Lee Tasjan was billed as playing solo, but this was hardly a solo show. He played the first three songs of his set by himself, but for the rest of the show was joined by a rotating cast of friends. First up was former bandmate Rich Hinneman on pedal steel guitar. Hinneman often plays with artists like Sara Bareilles, Roseanne Cash, K.D. Lang, and more, so it was kind of a quiet big deal for him to be there. Boston based artist Jessye DeSilva joined Tasjan for a John Prine cover, and Erica Blinn joined on guitar and sang one of her songs. The guests were one of the highlights of the set as they were each given their own time to shine instead of just being there to play along. Some highlights came towards the end of the set and included a slightly changed up "12 Bar Blues" and a trio of songs from the recently released Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan! ("Up All Night," "Feminine Walk," and "Dada Bois"). The night ended with a version of The Travelling Wilburys' "Handle With Care" that included Hinneman, Blinn, Tristen, and Buddy Hughen all taking the stage and handling a verse. 

This was the kind of tour that you wish would never end. Maybe we should start a petition to get Aaron Lee Tasjan and Tristen to tour together permanently. 

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