Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lilith Revisited: Heart Trumps the Fair

In 1997, amidst a very big breakup in my life, some friends took me to The Lilith Fair on it's Colorado stop. Personally, I was a mess, but one thing I did know was that I wanted to sing and write. And the sight of Fiona Apple— who was peaking at the time— and her band rocking hard, and Paula Cole's impressive pipes left a big impression on me.
Flash forward 13 years, and Lilith Fair announces a renewed national tour. At first, like half the songwriters I know, I vied for a Local Talent Search spot on the SF leg of the trip. I (obviously) didn't get a stage spot this go, but I did attend the show at Shoreline on Monday night, more to show my support for women in music than because I was particularly enthused about the line-up. While the bill featured top acts covering the spectrum of women in music throughout my lifetime, there was no one I was super excited to see.
But Lilith surprised me, the sum of its parts providing another touchstone of influence, community, showing both how far women have come in music, and perhaps how far they have left to go... and inspiring me anew.
With A Fine Frenzy and Colbie Caillet holding up the present, Kitten, perhaps, holding up the pop future (I can't say I'd endorse that as her rolling around the stage prompted me and a friend to exit the scene quickly),the impeccably tasteful Sara McLachlan acting as bridge between the country caricature that was Miranda Lambert (singing of beer runs and using guns, complete with a rifle motif microphone--can we say ugh?—her band rocked but she ultimately turned us off), the bubblegum fun of The Bangles (They looked and sounded great, switching off vocal duties and running a smooth show: I have renewed respect for the craft of "Walk Like an Egyptian"), and the rock eminence of Heart.
I was a child when Heart was selling millions of albums and I hadn't realized before watching Anne and Nancy Wilson play on Monday, how much their music had infiltrated my consciousness or quite what pioneers they were. The two sisters have written a huge number of hit songs, a few of which they played Monday. Not only was I surprised to know the words, I was also completely wowed by their playing and singing. I knew these two were great musicians, but they really took everyone, on the bill and in the audience, to school. Mashing up their own 'Even it Up' with The Rolling Stones' 'Gimme Shelter', covering Led Zeppelin's 'What is and What Should Never Be' so well that no one missed Robert Plant, and debuting a new song from an upcoming release, they had most everyone out of their seats. Talk about aging and creating well.