Earlier this month, I covered the Lissie show at The Independent in San Francisco. It was my third time seeing her live and second time covering her for Unsung Melody in the last six months. The setlist last time was heavy on material from her yet to be released album Back to Forever. The album is very similar in style to her debut album Catching a Tiger, but is more complex and layered. I had plenty of time to get familiar with Back to Forever before this show and was looking forward to seeing the songs done live.
I was expecting her to open with one of the upbeat songs with a big beat to it off the new album, but she came out and got the show started with the soft and catchy “Bully”. Which is off of Catching a Tiger. I found it to be a pleasant surprise and it got the crowd participation started at a high level with the majority of the crowd singing along. From there she went into the upbeat “Record Collector” from the same album raising the crowds energy level. Next she played the first song of the night from the new album, the bouncy and upbeat “Sleepwalking”. Through out the night she played an even split of songs from both albums, even throwing in a couple non album tracks for good measure. The crowd was equally enthusiastic about the new material as the older work and every song was a sing a long. Highlights for me included the previously mentioned “Record Collector”, a high energy performance of “When I’m Alone”, “Shameless” the lead single from Back to Forever and the slow and the soft and tender “They All Want You”. The last time I saw her this song really stood out to me as probably the best song of the night, despite never hearing it before. Now that I had become very familiar with the song, it was even more enjoyable. Another enjoyable part of the show was her guitarist Eric Sullivan. Several times through out the show he was given the spotlight while playing incredible solos. He fits in perfectly with Lissie and makes the show even stronger.
You can see my Lissie photo gallery here.
Through out the night they played fan favorites like the foot stompin’ “Little Lovin’”, The gentle “Everywhere I Go” and extremely catchy “I Don’t Wanna Go to Work” which I could see being a huge radio single in the future. Lissie is always fun and talkative with the crowd. She’ll take tequila shots on stage and have friendly banter with the crowd. My favorite one of those moments came towards the end of the show. It was before she played the song “Shroud”. She told the crowd that the song wasn’t on anything so you can’t actually get it. She went on to say that she wanted to put in on the album but the fuckin’ jerks wouldn’t let her. The song had strong catchy vocals and started out with minimal participation from the rest of the band before building up into a rockin finale with an impressive guitar solo. She closed out the main set with “In Sleep” from Catching a Tiger. Before long she returned to the stage and performed “Oh Mississippi”. The song has a feeling very similar to an old time traditional song and the crowd was singing along with every word. One of her most popular songs and the one she closed with the last time I saw her was a cover of Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness”. Her version of the song was named the Best Cover of 2010 by Rolling Stone. She didn’t give us that one, but she gave us another cover of a hip hop artist. She did a more upbeat and rockin version of Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home”. It sounded great and if it is ever recorded and released officially, I’m sure it will have a similar level of success as “Pursuit of Happiness”.
Over the course of the show it stood out to me how well the songs from both albums transfer to the live performance. Her music has bits of folk, blues, pop and rock in them. During the show her foot stomping, hair throwing and energy results in a performance that is very much rock n’ roll. She has a very strong stage presence and during songs she seems larger than life while remaining down to earth between songs. Each time I’ve seen her I thought she was better than the last and from the look and sound of this show, I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.
On a side note, after the show, my wife and I ended up running into Lissie at a bar down the street. She was there to meet a friend she hadn’t seen in some time. We obviously didn’t want to interrupt that for too long. In our brief conversation, she was very nice and sincere . The impression I got was that she is a very likable person who just happens to also be a amazing rock star. Sometimes that’s a rarity in the music business and that makes her even cooler in my book.