Susan Werner - The Colonial Theater, Phoenixville, PA, 4/01/2017; A Superb Set of Decidedly Necessary Songs
The Colonial Theater crowd was the beneficiary Saturday night April 1st as Point Entertainment booked a pair of headliners to perform, Livingston Taylor and Susan Werner.
Susan Werner did the opening set, even though she's been headlining her own shows for many years. I've been to her shows a number of times, but as she played this time it occurred to me that I had somehow forgotten just how good she is. At the outset, Livingston Taylor came out and introduced her with tons of praise.
Werner started strong with "Kicking the Beehive," the lead track from the album of the same name (2010). She followed with "The Last of the Good, Straight Girls", which led into "I Can't Be New", all three seeming like signature songs, in a way.
One of the things I like best about Werner is the way that she unapologetically writes her views into her material, no matter whether the topic is political, religious, or social. Her next two songs opened a few eyes (and ears), the first one coming from an album called Eight Unnecessary Songs. "Just what you don’t need! Eight little tunes on topics ranging from cosmetic surgery to the extraordinary properties of cheap beer to global warming. At turns facile, petty and uncharitable, these songs offer a kind of comfort to those of us falling wayyy short of Mother Teresa out here." Watch Susan perform "Dog" and you'll see what I mean. Although "Herbicides" comes from her latest album Hayseed, she introduced it saying something about it also being unnecessary. I thought about quoting some lyrics here, but just watch the video.
After "Red Dress" her set got even more topical starting with a track from her The Gospel Truth album, one that she considers “agnostic gospel”. From that album she drew "(Why Is Your) Heaven So Small", a song that hits the nail on the head in so many ways. While she sang it, I kept thinking that the song could not be more relevant now. Then I realized that I thought the exact same thing when she first released that album in 2007, which may be the last time I'd seen her. But then that's the beauty of songwriting like this, it's timeless.
Her set culminated in another true Werner gem, "My Strange Nation". Based on recent events, she has updated the song with a new verse about Donald Trump. See video below.
There was a lot of love in the Colonial Theater for Werner. She stuck around and came back out to sing a couple of tunes with Livingston Taylor at the end of his set. If you haven't seen Susan Werner, or haven't seen her lately, I heartily recommend going to her website and catching up with her.
Many thanks to the Colonial Theater for the sound and lights. Thanks to Beverly Kates for camera work and to Lindsey Mitchell for video production.
Bonus video: Werner posted her 2017 version of "My Strange Nation".
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