Indigo Girls

Indigo Girls at the Fox, Boulder CO, February 11, 2002

By Elizabeth Nitz

 Indigo Girls
The evening actually began at seven in the morning February 11th as fans started to line up under the Fox marquee. The cold, empty street became home as sleeping bags, blankets and breakfast were spread out and shared. Many new acquaintances were made and a few old friends were rediscovered as the line built over the hours. As one fan said, “Waiting in line meeting people can be just as fun as the show itself.”

They gathered around one group’s radio as the Indigo Girls were featured on KBCO’s Studio C

at 3:00 in the afternoon. A few people walked around with signs saying, “Desperately need 2 tickets!” The show sold out in minutes. Considering the Girls routinely pack venues of capacities above 10,000 in Colorado, only selling 500 tickets necessarily left some of the most dedicated fans out of the loop.

The doors were opened at 8:00pm and the chilly fans streamed in. Some chose to lean on the railings, some headed towards the raised seats along the wall, and the rest jockeyed for position in front of the stage. The Indigo Girls’ new CD, Become You, played in the background.

Indigo Girls

Ginger from KBCO introduced them at 9:30pm. “This is the first date of this extremely special club tour because they know what great fans we have in Colorado!” The crowd welcomed the Indigo Girls warmly, and they comfortably took the stage. They scanned the adoring crowd, obviously enjoying the sight. “It’s good to be on a club tour,” Amy commented.

To condition everyone to the short length of the set, Emily laughed, “You probably know this is not like a normal show, right?” One fan retorted with, “We’re not a normal group!” “Good answer!” came Emily’s response. They started with a crowd pleaser, Get Out The Map, from their 1997 release Shaming Of The Sun. Amy said, “You guys sing great! Keep on singing.”

Next they played Three Hits, an old song from Rites of Passage (1992) and the audience sang along as commanded.

It was time to introduce new album. Amy used the term “organic” when describing the songwriting as well as the production. They recorded with their familiar live band in the studio and mixed the entire thing in Atlanta. The crowd was surprisingly quiet as they sang a new song Emily wrote, Collecting You, just as tightly as they had sung the older songs but surrounded with fresh energy.

The next song, Yield, was preceded by a minor conference as Amy decided the tune should be sped up. Emily seemed to disagree (“Faster than the record? Faster?”) but gave in. Amy pounded out the new rhythm on her mandolin and the crowd accepted the song enthusiastically, shouting in appropriate places. Amy said at the end, “We’re still learning the songs.”

Emily introduced the next song, Deconstruction, by saying, “This is another new one. Every time I get ready to write songs, I’m like, ‘I’m going to write something different than about love.’ Oh well, whatever. This is about love. There’s animals in it too. I’m really growing!” The audience had a lot to say in return, mostly reassuring that her love songs were what they wanted most. Throughout the ballad, she shrugged off the sad sentiments but her eyes revealed feelings a bit more fresh.

She sang, “We’re sculpted from youth, but chipping away makes me weary, and as for the truth, it seems like we just pick a theory.” The song ended somberly and quietly.

Indigo Girls

The mood was quickly changed as Amy and Emily made fun of someone for dropping her beer, and launched into Gone Again off their 1999 album, Come On Now Social. Amy had a bit of fun with a line she accidentally repeated and grinned at the crowd, eyes wrinkling as she sang. Again she complimented the audience on its singing, pointing out that she could hear emerging third part harmonies.

She’s Saving Me was a very quiet, sad song that few knew. Everyone listened intently. Like faces at a lecture, they focused on Emily’s face and voice, breathy and heavy with emotion. Amy added harmony midway, matching her minimal tone. In unison they raised the chorus’s volume then faded to silence as the lights dimmed. 500 and 2 people did not even breathe for a moment. Emily barely whispered the last verse, then Amy thanked everyone for being so quiet. “We’re not worthy!” shouted one fan during the reverent applause that followed. This song may have been the highlight of the wonderful set.

Amy strapped on a harmonica for the first time in front of a live audience. She confessed she did not know what she was doing, again lightening the mood. “I’m really trying, and I think probably the only way is to screw it up in front of a lot of people, over and over again.” She introduced the title track off the new CD, Become You, as about conversations with the man next door. “It’s all about economics no matter what’s going on. And that applies to the South as well.” Politics and activism inspire much of Amy’s music and this up-tempo song was no exception. “We can’t afford the things you say, we can’t afford the warranty,” she sang. Emily joined her in rare vocal unison, breaking into harmony on just a few occasions. Amy’s harmonica added an interesting new sound to their acoustic signature. “Thanks for putting up with that,” Amy said gratefully.

An audience member requested that they play God Bless America. Emily scoffed. “Why? God bless the whole world!” Neither Indigo Girl is shy about her views. Another of Emily’s songs from Come On Now Social, Cold Beer and Remote Control, prompted harmonies from the audience and Amy smiled genuinely at the sweet sounds. Everyone hushed for the final strains of the guitar, then erupted into applause.

Indigo Girls

Amy’s Moment of Forgiveness has been around for a while and was the most recognized of the new material. People sang and clapped along. Amy thanked the crowd repeatedly, and reminded them of the show’s short length as the artists got hit with requests they could not fill. “It’s just a little promo tour, it’s a baby tour, ” Emily pleaded. “The idea of the whole tour was just to come out, with a short set, work the new songs, and you’re like, ‘No!’. Now you’re going to heckle us?” Emily poured the guilt trip on heavily and the crowd responded with fewer requests but did not entirely let up.

Our Deliverance was the final new song of the evening and brought out a different emotion in Emily. She strummed decisive chords, anger flashing in her eyes as she sang, “Lay down your weapons and love your neighbor as yourself.” The crowd threw fists in the air and cheered in agreement. The song was begun before the events of September 11th and was finished in response to them.

“Wow, you guys are great,” said Amy at the end. Emily thanked the shouting crowd for their support over the years and the two of them left the stage. They returned almost instantly, and the noise never died down. Amy seemed to change her mind about the encore, grabbed a different guitar and proceeded to tune it herself. Giving the crowd what it wanted, Emily explained that they felt the need to lengthen the set slightly. “We’re already violating our own boundaries!”

As Amy played the first chords of Chickenman, an old song from their 1992 Rites of Passage album, she showed off the power of her trademark black guitar and cut loose passionately for the first time all evening. Amy and Emily were nearly drowned out by a multitude of voices very familiar with the song. She encouraged the crowd to clap as Emily picked out a driving solo in the middle. Amy took over again, slowing the song down to almost nothing for a few verses. On cue, audience and performers dove into Bitterroot, which had been played in the middle of Chickenman for years and is now its own song on the new record. Those who knew it could not contain themselves and clapped, stomped or pounded the stage in response to its call-and-response rhythm. The song ended the evening on an upbeat note, and as the crowd dispersed the crew flung set lists and picks at stragglers.

The show was less about attracting new listeners and more about giving the diehard fans an exclusive preview of what is coming. Become You will be in stores March 12, 2002, and can be pre-ordered online or purchased at local and independent record stores.

February 11th, 2002