A hissing sound is coming from somewhere on stage. Both Lilly Hiatt and Lydia Loveless checked their amplifiers during their sets. The equipment wasn’t the problem. The noise was coming from an overactive fog machine. I don’t have anything against adding a little dramatic effect, but an excessive amount of haze might be inappropriate for two singer-songwriters. Despite the thick smoke, Hiatt and Loveless shined through it.
Lilly Hiatt’s album Walking Proof came out during the beginning of the pandemic. She also wrote two albums worth of material during the lockdown (more productive than baking sourdough bread). I got a preview of the material during her frequent livestreams from her Nashville home. Hiatt’s latest album Lately came out last month and her next album will be released in the Spring. So… there wasn’t a lack of material to play.
Hiatt’s lyrics capture emotional poignant moments in her life delivered by her unique vocal tone. She played her Rickenbacker 360 model guitar effortlessly even though it looked heavier than the petite singer. Instead of her famous father John Hiatt being the inspiration for her to pick up the guitar, it was the Indie band Weezer’s debut album (per Guitar Player May 2020). Hiatt told the crowd that she always loved the happy atmosphere of Denver since she attended Denver University. After receiving a degree in Psychology, Hiatt move to Nashville to start a music career.
Dressed in bell bottoms and a short sleeve blouse, the gum chewing Hiatt opened with Simple about childhood memories. “Simple things can take me right back there/A place I thought I left behind somewhere/A sky that opens up like love so vast/I take a picture in my mind to make it last.” A few songs later the singer and her band shook things up with the rockers P-Town and Little Believer. Someone yelled that the guitarist Josh Halper played like a monster. He replied in horror saying, “Monsters are scary.” That’s when the fog machine went into overdrive and almost filled the stage entirely with smoke. Hiatt just laughed and said, ” I like fog.”
After the cloud dissipated, Hiatt sang Drawl – “And I could write a book about ya/Feeling like nobody wants ya/You’re beautiful and you don’t know/You’re beautiful and we all know.” I was wondering if Hiatt was singing to herself or the crowd. The beauty of that tune is either way works.
Starting the double billed show, Lydia Loveless told the crowd she was feeling a little weird and sad because the tour was almost over. Wearing a dark sparkly dress worn over a Joy Division t-shirt, the singer played stripped down versions of songs mostly from her latest album Daughter. The September 2020 issue of Pitchfork describes the collection of songs as “a sober approach to its less-than-sober characters.” Loveless published it on her own Honey, You Gonna Be Late Records.
Born Lydia Ankrom from Coshocton, Ohio. She played bass in her family’s band with her father and two sisters for three years. After they broke up, Loveless launched her solo career when she was fifteen-years-old. Five albums later, Loveless has toured with everyone from The Old 97’s, Supersuckers, and now Lilly Hiatt.
Although it was sometimes hard to see through all the smoke from the overzealous fog machine, Loveless switched from the guitar to the keyboards throughout the night. Guitarist and background vocalist Todd May provided a rawness that matched Loveless’ heartbreaking vocals seamlessly. She ended her set with September – “So I know the turnpike ain’t the place to be/But at least you’re here with me, honey/And I can smell your Mitchum on the breeze/Well it makes me feel like I’m getting older/September is the only time I’m free.”
See you at the next show. I’ll be appearing behind a cloud of manufactured smoke.