2010 The Charleston Gazette Review: Kate Miller-Heidke & Marc Cohn

2010 The Charleston Gazette Review: Kate Miller-Heidke & Marc Cohn at Mountain Stage

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Mountain Stage Review By V.C. McCabe

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Mountain Stage wandered over to The Clay Center for a special FestivALL concert featuring Kate Miller-Heidke, David Broza, Sahara Smith, The Bob Thompson Unit, and an extended set by Marc Cohn.

Australian opening act Kate Miller-Heidke is one of the more interesting acts to have appeared on Mountain Stage. Championed as the heir to avante-pop stars like Lene Lovich and Cyndi Lauper, Kate’s music anchors catchy pop with lyrical substance and impressive vocal acrobatics.

Her last album, “Curiouser,” has been winning awards and critical praise since it’s initial release in Australia two years ago and recently made its U.S. debut. The single “Caught In The Crowd” earned Kate and her husband (guitarist Keir Nuttal) the Grand Prize in the International Songwriting Competition. The song’s upbeat melody masked lyrics describing a victim of school bullying.

The stunning 1960s-inspired “Politics in Space” weaves sci-fi imagery and Kate’s eccentric soprano with a chain gang stomp, and she also dazzled the crowd with a piano rendition of her humorous “Facebook Song.” The latter will definitely require some editing before the radio broadcast.

Kate was very personable and charming between songs, her operatic vocals were absolutely spectacular, and her set was far too brief for the massive amount of entertainment she provided.

Israeli artist David Broza was booked to replace Aboriginal singer Gurrumul, whose U.S. tour was canceled this week due to “unforeseen circumstances.” Broza did a fantastic job of filling the empty spot with his intricate, often frenzied guitar work. His latest release, “Night Dawn,” is a collection of unpublished poems written and willed to him by Townes Van Zandt that Broza set to music.

A rather bland performance by Texan singer-songwriter Sahara Smith preceded a rare full set by the delightful Bob Thompson Unit.

The show ended with a special extended one-hour set by Marc Cohn, who is probably best known for his 1991 hit “Walking In Memphis.”

Cohn came to the public’s attention again in 2005 when he was shot in the head during an attempted carjacking. The shocking incident and the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina that same month cured him of the writer’s block he’d been suffering in the years preceding the attack. The gifted songwriter turned his tragedy into art for “Join The Parade,” which was his first studio album in nearly a decade.

With his new release “Listening Booth: 1970,” Marc takes a break from the drama to pay tribute to his favorite songs that were originally released in 1970. The album features covers of classic songs by Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Cat Stevens, Van Morrison, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Smokey Robinson, Joe Cocker, Simon & Garfunkel, and Eric Clapton.

Highlights of his set were a bluesy rendering of Joe Cocker’s “The Letter,” “The Calling” from “Join The Parade,” and “Silver Thunderbird” from Cohn’s self-titled debut.

Marc’s voice has even more depth and power in person than on his recordings, and provided a fine finale for the evening.

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