Sunday, February 9, 2014

Concert Review: Rosanne Cash, Flato Markham Theater, Markham Ontario - February 1, 2014

The lousy weather conditions across much of the Greater Toronto Area did not prevent a sold out gathering from taking place this past Saturday night.  When the peformer is the legendary Rosanne Cash, people will make the exception and tackle a blistering snowstorm to reach their destination.

Ms. Cash is currently on tour is support of her magnificent new album, the just released The River and the Thread. The first portion of the show is dedicated to this new project, as Cash and her stellar band play the entire album in sequence.  According to Ms. Cash, this is something she has wanted to do for some time.  

Opening up her show with the swampy first track "The Feather's Not a Bird", Cash set the tone for what would not just be a simple show, but a journey back to her southern roots.  "The Sunken Lands" tells the hard story of her grandparents and their life after settling in the harsh, dry land in Arkansas.  The title describes the terrain that all settlers faced when they arrived in Arkansas as the geological development of the land was caused by an earthquake that caused the land to sink.  While some would think this would have been a boon to the land, it was in fact quite the opposite. 

Reaching back in to tell the story of one of her famous father's friends and bandmates, Marshall Grant, "Etta's Tune" is a lovely ode and gift to Etta, their longtime family friend and Mr. Grant's widow.  The song came about when Etta told the story of how they would wake up together in the morning and the first words spoken were "What's the temperature darlin'?"  From that first line, a beautiful love story of dedication, commitment and life on the road was born.

With the completion of all 11 tracks of The River and the Thread and a short intermission, the second half of the show was centered around some of the many hits from her mainstream country hits, as well as several selections from her previous album, 2009's The List.  Taking the audience through her version's of the Hank Snow classic "I'm Movin' On", the Bob Dylan hit "Girl From the North Country" and her astounding version of the country and American roots music standard "Long Black Veil", Ms. Cash showed the sold out crowd why she has become one of the most important artists of her time and a legend in her own right. 

The showcasing of her hits "Blue Moon With Heartache", the Grammy winning "I Don't Know Why You Don't Want Me" and "Seven Year Ache" reminded long time fans that this artist was destined for greatness and a very lengthy career.  When one listens to the lyrics of "Blue Moon With Heartache", a number one song from 1981 it's astounding to think Ms. Cash was only 23 when she wrote it.  Her first number one song, also from 1981, was a poem she wrote at age 18. 

Closing out the show with a nod to her father, the Johnny Cash penned (and Rosanne Cash number one hit) "Tennessee Flat Top Box" and a final nod to The List with the Harlan Howard-penned "Heartache's By The Number" the crowd was sent home having witnessed one of the greatest ambassadors to real music in the business today.  The show was musically and lyrically superb.  The band, led by husband John Levanthal, second to none.  And the River and the Thread album is the first truly great album of 2014 that can be considered for an album of the year nomination.

Rosanne Cash continues her tour this Friday night, Valentine's Day, at the GWU Lisner Auditorium in Washington D.C., February 20 in Norfolk, Connecticut at Infinity Hall, and a sold-out performance at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in her hometown of New York City.  For more tour dates and to purchase music, please click here to visit Rosanne Cash's web site.

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