In addition to being greatly impressed with the musical prowess of Alela Diane and her band Wild Divine, I was also greatly impressed with her fans. Going out to a club to see a singer-songwriter, folk band, or similarly delicate and nuanced music can be a dicey proposition. That it was The Parson Red Heads‘ first ever Boston appearance gave me even more anxiety. I wanted it to be special. I wanted to be able to actually hear them. To my surprise and great pleasure, the crowd was quiet and attentive during the Parsons’ set, despite the fact that few had ever heard of them. They repaid the favor by treating us to a beautiful, heartfelt set of songs with strong focus on their upcoming album.
There’s nothing quite like The Parson Red Heads‘ cozy folk melodies and sweet harmonies to instantly melt away stress and sour moods. I had previously only seen them as an acoustic three-piece (Evan and Brette Marie Way, and Sam Fowles), but for this cross-country tour just ahead of Yearling (out Aug. 16 on Arena Rock Recording Company), they expanded to four with bassist Charlie Hester, who also contributed to their life-affirming four-part harmonies. Even with them seriously rocking out – Brette doing a mighty fine job on drums, and Sam impressive as hell on lead guitar – they do so in a gentle and loving way. They’re the very antithesis of the cool, detached hipster, with their immense warmth, ‘one big happy family’ vibe, and trademark white clothes. Refreshing in so many ways, and as lovely and genuine offstage as they are on.
The good news for those of you who didn’t make it out – they’ll likely be back in the autumn, following the new album’s release.
The enraptured audience was clearly there for Alela Diane, and she was great. A compelling singer-songwriter and originally a solo artist, her latest album, Alela Diane & Wild Divine is her first with a full band. A band that features, curiously enough, both her husband and her father, both on guitar. That’s got to be a little odd! But her father is responsible for first recording her music at his own studio, and he’s an excellent guitarist (and mandolin player). The band’s mostly acoustic country-tinged rock gives Alela’s songs a pleasing buoyancy, though the shiver-inducing stuff came the few times she stepped out on her own with acoustic guitar for a earlier solo piece. The Parsons joined them at one point for a down-home jamboree. It was a nice mix of rockers and ballads from personable and engaging performers.
The Parson Red Heads Setlist
Time Is Running Out
You Can Leave It (from Orangutang)
Punctual As Usual (from King Giraffe)
Kinds Handing Out
Seven Years Ago
Happy We Agree
I Miss Your Smile (from the Early Birds EP)
Burning Up The Sky