November 27, 2015

Concert #764 - Iain Matthews, Christine Collister & Au Pair at the Morgan-Wixson Theater (November 21, 2015)

This concert brought me for the first time ever to the Morgan-Wixson Theater in Santa Monica, a venue located on Pico Boulevard, just four blocks away from McCabe's Guitar Shop. Funny thing: I have attended over four hundred shows at McCabe's, without knowing that the Morgan-Wixson Theater even existed. I arrived at the venue very early, so I got to watch the sound check for all of the evening's protagonists and that was an experience in itself.

Christine Collister's sound check
The concert kicked off with an excellent set delivered by Au Pair, a harmonious duo consisting of two musicians I had not been familiar with. Individually taken, Gary Louris and Django Haskins are good singers, but when they pool their voices together, they become great singers. Their songs, most likely self-penned, sounded quite good, especially "Baby On Trial" and "One Armed Candy Bear", the title track of their first and, so far, only album. I would love to see them again, preferably at McCabe's.

Au Pair at the Morgan-Wixson Theater
After a long intermission, Iain Matthews took the stage and it didn't take him long to knock me out: his set-opening a-cappella delivery of "Just One Look At You" was absolutely divine, and so were all the other numbers he performed during his solo set: his own "Alone Again Blues", "God Looked Down", "A Lamb In Armor", "Joy Mining" and "Horse Left In The Rain", plus two covers, Steve Young's "Seven Bridges Road" and Jackson Browne's "These Days". His soulful and passionate singing affected me very much, as he always does. It is hard to believe that someone who is in his seventieth year of existence can still sound as good as he does. By the way, this was my fourth time to see Iain perform live, a clear sign that I'm a fan.

Iain Matthews at the Morgan-Wixson Theater
I first saw Christine Collister in 1998, when she opened for Loudon Wainwright in Pasadena and I have been keeping an eye on her career ever since. Still, her appearance last Saturday at the Morgan-Wixson Theater was a good reminder as to how great a singer she is. Her delivery of "River Deep, Mountain High" will be hard to forget, as were all the other covers she sang for us, some performed solo, others with Iain: Chris Smither's "Love Me Like A Man", Ike & Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High", Emmylou Harris' "Boulder To Birmingham", Bette Midler's "Rose", Jackson Browne's "For A Dancer", Gerry Goffin & Carole King's "Goin' Back" and the set-ending "She's Leaving Home", the Lennon-McCartney gem. Christine's voice just seems to be getting better with age

Christine Collister having fun at the Morgan-Wixson Theater
Christine Collister & Iain Matthews at the Morgan-Wixson Theater
Iain and Christine also sang "Lemonade Lady" and "Pack Up Your Sorrows", two outstanding songs culled from Iain's tribute album to the music of Richard Farina, released earlier this year under the Plainsong artist name.

Credit must also be given to the four-piece house band, they were quite good: guitarist Willie Aron, bassist David Jenkins, keyboard-player Jordan (last name?) and a drummer whose name I didn't catch.

The evening ended with Cristine Collister and the crowd singing "Happy Birthday" to Paul Rock, the organizer of this outstanding event.

Christine Collister honoring concert organizer Paul Rock (right)
The concert hall
The stage

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