Eleni Mandell did another superb set at The Point in Bryn Mawr, PA on Wednesday night, opening for Shivaree. It was her second time here in the last few months, both times as opening act; it's time they booked her to headline. In any case, the small but appreciative audience was treated to a nice sampling of her five albums, concentrating on her latest, the excellent Afternoon. Mandell played acoustic guitar and sang, accompanied only by an upright bass. On the Tom Waits cover it was just bass, voice and finger snaps - just awesome.
Look Out Below
American Boy (dedicated to John Kerry)
Just a Dream
The One That Got Away (Incredible version of the Tom Waits song, holding glass of wine)
It's Raining (Allen Toussaint)
It was the last night of this tour, and Mandell had no problem selling out the last of the CDs she brought, leaving none to carry back to L.A. Unbeknownst to most everyone in attendance at this show (including me), Tom Waits turns out to be a common denominator between Eleni Mandell and Shivaree. Early on in her career, Mandell became friends with and was mentored by L.A. hipster Chuck E. Weiss (subject of Rickie Lee Jones' "Chuck E's in Love") who introduced her to his friend and her big influence, Tom Waits. Shivaree's connection to Waits starts with keyboardist Danny McGough, who toured with Waits prior to forming Shivaree.
McGough and guitarist Duke McVinnie, representing two thirds of Shivaree were not present for this show. As explained by lead singer Ambrosia Parsley, the pair were busy with other projects in the aftermath of a four year period of record company problems and finally recording their next album which is due out soon. Performing with a four piece backup group including a drummer who had only been with the band for about ninety minutes at showtime, Parsley offered up an appealing mix of rock, folk, jazz, and 40's style pop.
I'm not sure whether it was the songs or the between song comments that were more appealing, but Parsley does have a way with a story, starting with the unlikely premise of a funny story about her brother getting cancer, then regaling the audience with a tale of getting locked outside her brother's house at night, in her underwear, with a pit bull in heat. This epic was spread out in installments between several songs. Another story dealt with her grandmother stabbing her grandfather before being smothered to death by him.
Parsley hardly needed the Lisa Loeb glasses to accomplish quirky, but the sound was good, the band played well, and the songs were enjoyable. The only flaw in the set was that the band failed to "learn" the one song anybody would know by Shivaree, the WXPN favorite "Goodnight Moon" which was also used to great effect by Quentin Tarantino during the Kill Bill, Vol. 2 credits. The lame promise that they would learn it before coming back for two more Point shows later this month didn't hold much water for the somewhat disappointed audience. Breach, an EP they sold at the show for $5.00 contains two good sounding tracks from the forthcoming full length CD, Who's Got Trouble, as well as three additional tracks not on the album.