The room was filled with harmony enthusiasts as well as local musicians awaiting Darlingside. The Massachusetts-based quartet is on the western arm of a national tour and they performed at The Cooperage sponsored by AMP Concerts on Nov. 15th.
The crowd is "Ready for take-off" as the band takes the stage. Four men tightly surround the mic stand center stage, lean into a circle and blast out the first number, "My Gal, My Guy." Seizing the moment and galvanizing the crowd, their voices quickly blend into a soaring, curving stream of harmony. As the first song ends, explosive applause.
Over the course of one extended set, the audience is willingly transported by Darlingside into an enchanted world of musical dexterity and vocal harmony. The entire evening was a journey of collective musical discovery.
After a few songs, it’s time for meeting the band. They announce that it’s their first time headlining in Albuquerque. They had an enthusiastic first gig here last year as an opening act for Patty Griffin, and thus developed an following—many of whom came back tonight. Indeed, the room is filled to the brim. Since it’s just after the election, they mention what a long and strange week it’s been, and that there is no place they’d rather be than hanging out with their audience in a music club.
Their instruments include electric and acoustic guitars, bass, fiddle, cello, keyboards and percussion. During parts of the evening, they are joined by the opening act, a duo, Frances Luke Accord, who smoothly and ably contribute to the musical prowess of the performance.
Cello leads off the 4th song, "My Love," while a mandolin is being fine tuned. Two band members at the mic. The cellist sings along on the gorgeous melody even though his face is nowhere near the microphone. We imagine we are hearing him in spirit. Now, the mandolin player picks up a fiddle and the song turns a corner into a moody, beautiful instrumental bridge to closure.
The energy was contagious throughout the night right from the beginning of the show. On "The Catbird Seat," they deeply and easily weave their resonant voices. This is followed by one of the strongest performances of the night on "The Ancestor," during which they sing, “But I will find my way/ Out of the dark someday/ Into a crimson yellow sun."
The originality of Darlingside defies categorization. In a good way, however. It is three quarters through the evening, and I find myself at a loss for exactly what kind of band to call them. But, I would certainly call them spirited, immensely talented and a gifted ensemble.
They have been recording and touring extensively and have released four records. Several members of the band are multi-
This tour is now taking them from the West (New Mexico, Colorado, Texas), to the East (Mass. Rhode Island, Vermont, and around New York state), and then over to the U.K. and Europe. This extensive schedule is an example of their popularity and enduring stamina for the road. As evidence of their growing prominence, Darlingside was name Artist of the Year for 2015 at the Folk Alliance International Awards in Kansas City.
Before they close, they speak to the audience again about how grateful they are to have this crowd join them in their musical feast. They leave the stage to rousing applause and are called back by the shouts and whistles. The encore number, "4th of July" provides a fitting close to a tremendous evening of song.
Follow Darlingside at darlingside.com. Join their mailing list, and look for their return to Burque along with their local,harmonically charged up and enthusiastic fans.
Douglas Cohen is a Culture Writer and Essayist. His concerts and music festival reviews are at www.alibi.com.