R&B singer Bettye LaVette graced The Hamilton with her divine presence on Saturday. Looking much younger than her 72 years, fit and trim, Bettye performed with bountiful energy and flawless style.
Legendary soul singer Bettye LaVette released Things Have Changed, her 10th studio album, on March 30. On the new record, Bettye tackles the songs of Bob Dylan as only she can. And now, she will perform them live in a show at The Hamilton on Saturday, May 19.
Before hitting the road to tour their new album, Mandolin Orange did a number of recording sessions for various music outlets, which really warmed them up to the songs and how to present them live.
Andrew Marlin (vocals, mandolin, guitar, banjo) and Emily Frantz (vocals, violin, guitar) were especially mindful of those experiences during their sold-out show at The Hamilton on Thursday night. They praised the DC concert hall for its acoustics and warmth, which aided their ability to capture the sound they wanted from the new songs — songs like “My Blinded Heart,” which they performed next.
I didn’t see my first concert until I was an undergraduate at the University of Delaware in 1992, and that concert was a performance by Howard Jones! It was a busy time for Howard, who released a new album that year. As college kids, we were still consuming his last album, Cross That Line, which introduced two quintessential songs in Howard’s catalog — “The Prisoner” and “Everlasting Love,” both US top 40 hits.
So of course I was thrilled that Howard Jones performed both songs when he stopped at The Hamilton Live on Saturday, Sept. 3, continuing a mini-tour on the heels of wrapping up his summer travels with the Barenaked Ladies.
The definition of fantastic? fan·tas·tic /fan’tastik/ [adj.] imaginative or fanciful; remote from reality.
Enter Johnny Fantastic, whose up-tempo electronic cabaret certainly fits his name — and in a good way. Let’s add to the mix Leah Gage (also of local band BRNDA), who stands beside Johnny on synthesizers and vocals, and you have a Fantastic Duo indeed in DC indie synth outfit Stronger Sex.
In 1979, Martha Davis launched The Motels from California with sultry, catchy songs like “Total Control,” and then charged into a prolific period of seven albums over the ensuing decade, each demonstrating a penchant for fresh rhythms and clever wordplay.
In recent years, Ms. Davis has reformed a version of her band and took to the road, appearing in the extended DC metro area back in 2013 as part of a “Totally 80s Summer Tour” in Leesburg, Va. Now, Martha Davis and The Motels are here headlining tonight at the Hamilton (600 14th St. NW, DC) in what promises to be an absorbing show.
Watch a performance of “Total Control” below:
I reviewed the performance by The Motels in 2013 for We Love DC, noting that the full set that included classics like “Danger,” “Little Robbers,” “Suddenly Last Summer” and “Only the Lonely.”
It was reinvigorating to hear Davis revisit her catalog, particularly the lush but maudlin “Suddenly Last Summer.” Her voice sounded timeless, and she’s handily evaded the fate that befell some of her contemporaries who don’t sound quite the same as they once did. With Davis, I could close my eyes and it was exactly as if I were listening to her on the radio 30 years ago.
I added, “The band has good chemistry and a big, full sound that casually slides in around Davis’ sultry vocals without ever threatening to overwhelm them. They are a good combination, and Davis has suggested the lineup will make an album, which could be a very good thing.”
So join them tonight at the Hamilton for the “Suddenly This Spring Tour 2015,” where they are certain to entertain.
Tickets are available online and at the venue. Greg Hawkes, best known for being the keyboard player of The Cars, opens for Martha Davis and The Motels