03 October 2009
Fillmore, Denver, CO
Definitely the youngest demographic of audience members I've ever stood side by side with--the ancient Fillmore Ballroom packed every square foot with dedicated admirers who held up on the large, standing-room-only floor for over 4 hours.
After an opening acoustic-guitar-and-percussion reggae act, and Howie Day (with accompanying guitarist) serving as an acoustic warmup act, Colbie Caillat and her tight, 5-piece band walked out onto an otherwise no-frills stage set, with all wearing jeans except for Colbie proudly strutting out in a low-cut black dress with cowboy boots, making her already taller-than-average presence stand even higher.
Colbie began the set as she began her most recent release, Breakthrough, with the Shawn Colvin-esque acoustic shuffle intro to "I Won't", revealing a honest account of the ups and downs in young adult relationships. She later showcased the progressive-scale harmony power of "Begin Again".
She distributed her major hits out through the set, lodging "Realize" in the fourth slot. A stripped-down, acoustic version of "Rainbow" varied her set list from earlier venues on the current 2009-2010 world tour.
Colbie plaintively talked about how she broke up with somebody, and later regretted missing all the qualities of the person she had left, introducing "I Never Told You". The chorus of "Fearless" brought out the higher levels of her vocal range.
Though brief, her set list featured a roughly even mix of tracks from CoCo and her latest CD.
Caillat remarked how Bob Marley was one of her favorite artists, and also confidently took liberties with the set list and added a cover of the Pussycat Dolls' "Don't Cha".
A powerful, harder-edged version of the simply delightful, radio-saturated "Fallin' For You" ended the main set, and "Bubbly" ended her encore.
Colbie filled out time gaps between songs and vocals with flirtatious banter, mostly non-verbal, with the band members. Her vocals were healthily in tune, with only a couple of minor exceptions of flatness, during the set.
Many people are currently comparing Colbie Caillat to the likes of Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, & Jewel. Though, Colbie admittedly doesn't have the vocal range of Mariah, or the projective power of Whitney, or the lyrical sophistication of a Jewel. So, what it is that Colbie has that places her in such a high league?
Well, for starters, her music spans an unusually large rainbow of styles, including folk, country, R&B, reggae, & pop, appealing to a rather large following.
That said, some critics have cited her vocal phrasing as abnormal or unnatural. But, remember, Wilson Phillips received similar criticism when they blockbuster-ed their way up the charts in 1990.
Why people like Colbie Caillat in a fashion similar to their enamor for Wilson Phillips, is that both recording acts have their hearts on their sleeves--they aren't afraid to sing, write, or even dress as they please--a glimpse of sincerity that's rare to find in today's grossly over-marketed music industry.
Interestingly, both Wilson Phillips and Colbie Caillat make their homes in Southern California, a musical region that for over 40 years has proven that, "In L.A., everything is hipp!".
[****1/2] - Steven T.
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