LIVE: Paula Cole @ The Egg, 10/21/17

October 23rd, 2017, 4:00 pm by Greg

Review by Greg Haymes

Such a magnificent instrument…

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Paula Cole’s almost impossibly rich voice filled The Egg’s Swyer Theatre last weekend even if the fans barely filled half the house. She didn’t seem to care.

“We’re gonna fertilize The Egg with our mojo,” she proclaimed, and that she did, opening and closing her 110-minute concert with a selection of covers ranging from Bob Dylan to Billie Holiday, from Prince to Dolly Parton.

On her new album, Ballads, she’s forging a path into jazz territory. While her rendition of “God Bless the Child” was pretty straight-forward (at least until she launched into a whistling solo worthy of Rahsaan Roland Kirk), she showed off some considerable jazz chops on “The Ballad of Hollis Brown,” digging deep into Dylan’s stark, harrowing tale. “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” showcased her arranging talents, as she sat at the electric piano and inserted simple, sparkling Erik Satie-like riffs between verses to counterbalance the horror of the lyrics.

Accompanied by Chris Bruce (acoustic and electric guitars) and Ross Gallagher (acoustic bass), Cole also played electric piano on about half of her 15-song set. Percussion was limited to the rock steady stomp of her boot heel when she was at the piano, as well as some occasional audience participation – finger-snapping (on the erotic, extended slow jam of “Feelin’ Love”) or hand-clapping. And then on the final of three encores, Cole showcased her beat-boxing skills during a bristling cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.”

The 49-year-old Cole spit out the lyrics to the confessional “Bethlehem” (from her stunning, often over-looked debut album Harbinger). And she threw back her head and wailed her way through “Throwing Stones,” (from her breakthrough, now 20-year-old sophomore album, This Fire) afterward commenting, “I wrote those songs in my twenties. They’re exhausting.”

And, yes, of course, she got around to those career cornerstone songs, “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone” and “I Don’t Want to Wait.”

“I didn’t write this for ‘Dawson’s Creek,'” she declared prior to a stripped down, but soaring performance of the latter. “I’m reclaiming it. I wrote it for my grandparents.”

Doesn’t sound like the stuff of a network teen soap opera, does it? It’s not, and neither is Ms. Cole.

Ode to Billie Joe (Bobbie Gentry)
God Bless the Child (Billie Holiday)
The Ballad of Hollis Brown (Bob Dylan)
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll (Bob Dylan)
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free (Billy Taylor)
Throwing Stones
Feelin’ Love
Road to Dead
Watch the Woman’s Hands
Where Have All the Cowboys Gone
When Doves Cry (Prince)
I Don’t Want to Wait
Jolene (Dolly Parton)

4 thoughts on “LIVE: Paula Cole @ The Egg, 10/21/17”

  1. glenn says:

    great show nice pictures

  2. Mike says:

    I think Paula is one of a kind. Paula is so very talented and an extremely friendly human. I consider myself lucky to have met you and always enjoy seeing you perform live. Take care Paula

  3. Mike says:

    Did anybody do a review of the Brand X show ?

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