Monday, February 17, 2020

Live Shows: Juliana Hatfield, Once Ballroom, Somerville, MA 2/12/20

Photo by Ken Sears
Somehow I had never been to an actual Juliana Hatfield show. I saw her play a May Day show at Fort Apache in 2001 with Bill Janovitz, Tanya Donelly, and Fuzzy. I saw her playing in Evan Dando's band in Providence, and I saw The Blake Babies open for Letters to Cleo a couple of years ago. But, somehow, never an actual Juliana Hatfield show. Thankfully, that has now changed after her show at Once in Somerville.

What was truly remarkable about her show is that although she is considered a 90's icon, she played only four songs from the 90's: Two from The Juliana Hatfield Three ("My Sister" and "Feelin' Massachusetts"), "Bottles and Flowers" from Only Everything, and "Everybody Loves Me But You" from Hey Babe. In fact, fifteen of the twenty songs she played are from the last three years. She played three covers each from her Police and Olivia Newton-John covers albums, and songs from 2017's Pussycat and 2019's Weird. I've seen a lot of shows were bands that have been around for decades mostly play newer material and the crowd is typically disappointed they didn't hear the songs they grew up on. That wasn't the case with Juliana Hatfield. The crowd welcomed every song equally. The crowd last Wednesday wasn't just there to hear "My Sister." They were there for the entire catalog.

At this point in her career, Juliana Hatfield knows what she's doing. She's an incredibly captivating performer and has the audience hanging on her every note, every word, and every syllable. She's the type of long term performer that isn't attracting a crowd just there for a slice of nostalgia. These are die hard fans that discovered Hatfield in their youth but have stayed on board all along. In 2020 her shows are the perfect melding of meeting what her audience wants and keeping it fresh enough for her to stay interested and connected to the music.

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