Duncan Sheik performed at The Birchmere last night with Courrier – an alternative rock band out of Austin,Texas – as a fitting opening act. The concert hall – with intimate seating with tables coming to within inches of the stage – was a perfect venue for the vocal harmonies presented by the opening act and the singer-songwriter headliner.
Courrier performed a brief half-hour set composed mostly of songs from an upcoming release. The band has been on the scene for three years and has been building a following by getting some of their songs featured on some television shows. The band features Austin Jones on lead vocals, keyboards, and guitars and Nathen Drake on lead guitar and vocals. Their sound is rounded out by the rhythm section of Nathen Drake on drums and bassist Taylor Bartholemew. The vocal harmonies of Austin, Philip, and Taylor really stood out. Highlights of their set included their current single “Love is a Fire.” The band impressed the crowd and obviously gained from new fans according to some of the chatter I heard during the intermission.
Duncan Sheik came onto the stage with a keyboardist James Hart and drummer Doug Yowell and launched into Depeche Mode’s “Stripped.” Next he showed the concert was not going to just be a night of covers off his recently released Covers Eighties Remixed when he performed “Memento” off his 2002 Daylight album. Duncan chose “Wishful Thinking” for his third song.
Sheik returned to the covers to perform Blue Nile’s “Stay.” He dedicated the cover to a cancelled concert at the Birchmere by Blue Nile he saw on a vintage calendar backstage (Birchmere is decorated with autographed photos, posters, and other musical memorabilia). He tried out a new song called “Oh My Mind.”
The Tony Award winning artist did not forget his theater fans. He performed “Don’t Do Sadness” from his Tony Award-winning score from Spring Awakening with special guest Laura Warshauer providing additional vocals.
Laura is a rising starlet on the music scene performing at Lollapalooza 2012 and recently opened for Bob Schneider on his tour. The song from Spring Awakening was the only song from a musical performed at this show.
Duncan returned to Daylight for the beautifully penned song “For You.” He followed that with another song from that album “Such Reveries,” and then showcased a pair of new songs called “Distant Lovers” and “Lay Down Your Weapons.” He wrapped up his set with a cover of Tears for Fears’ “Shout.”
Duncan Sheik came back for a three song encore. He started his encore with another new song “Half a Room.” He played quite a few new songs throughout his performance, so I would imagine he is working on a new album. He played his breakout hit “Barely Breathing” as the second song of his encore, and finished off his encore with “Home” off his first album.
Duncan Sheik treated his fans to new songs, covers, hits, and a selection of ‘deeper’ songs. In between songs he offered stories and reflections. The opening band stuck around to meet fans after the show. The concert was an intimate and wonderful musical experience.
Running Time: Two hours and 15 minutes, including a 20-minute intermission.
Duncan Sheik and Sunset Sessions Tour 2012 played one night only on November 25, 2012, at The Birchmere – 3701 Mount Vernon Avenue, in Alexandria, Virginia. A list of upcoming shows and venue information can be found on The Birchmere website.