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Vance Gilbert with Jenee Halstead ~ 2017 February 23 ~ The Burren ~ Somerville, MA

... by Joanne Corsano ...

Vance Gilbert
Vance Gilbert
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of the concert

Vance Gilbert accompanying himself on acoustic guitar; opening act Jenee Halstead accompanying herself on acoustic guitar.

Set List

Pie & Whiskey - Goodbye Pluto - God Bless Everyone - Zombie Paddycake - Day Before November - Old White Men - Unfamiliar Moon - Rental Car - For the Good Times {Kris Kristofferson} - a Brazilian samba - another Brazilian samba - High Rise - Danny Boy [with Tom McCarthy on fiddle] - Spencer the Rover ... encore ... Could You Believe? {Al Jarreau}


Rental Car

High Rise


Vance Gilbert performed a splendid concert to an enthusiastic audience, many of whom were his friends and neighbors. Vance was happy to do this show because this venue is just a few miles from his house.

He performed a selection of songs primarily from recent albums, and also digging far into his back catalog for a stunning rendition of the late Al Jarreau's "Could You Believe?" for the encore. Vance left the stage and stood in the audience for this a cappella tour de force, in which he proved a microphone is really just a fashion accessory for him.

Vance is a fine guitarist, a stellar songwriter, a powerful singer, and a fabulous storyteller. I am particularly fond of "Day Before November," which really isn't a song at all; it's an a cappella poem in which Vance tells the story of Hallowe'en in the multi-ethnic neighborhood of his childhood. Although his in-between songs banter is entertaining and often very funny, his songs tend to be very serious. His writing is poetic and thought-inspiring.

An audience member requested "Danny Boy," whereupon Vance summoned the owner of the club, Tom McCarthy, up to the stage to play fiddle on the song. After some humorous discussion about what key to play in, they performed the traditional ballad to the appreciative audience. As if to show that he really has Celtic street cred, Vance followed it up with "Spencer the Rover."

The show was opened by Jenee Halstead, a Boston area singer/songwriter with a wonderful voice and a handful of very good songs. She only played about 20 minutes but I was very impressed with her and would like to hear her again.

This was my first time visiting the Burren, and I give this venue a big thumbs-up. It's a very short walk from the Davis Square T station. The performance venue is in the back of the club. The seating capacity is not large (100, maybe), and there are no bad seats, as there are reserved tables near the stage, and general admission seats around the periphery and at the bar, opposite the stage. There is a good big stage, high enough off the floor to provide good visibility everywhere. The staff were enthusiastic and efficient, and the food menu was varied and good.

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