Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

September 24, 2008

Indigo Girls

Mahaiwe, Great Barrington
September 21, 2008
By Donna Bailey-Thompson

From the moment Australian Missy Higgins, acoustical guitar in hand, greeted the audience with a smile and "G'day!" her opening act could do no wrong. She sang, strummed, scurrying fingers across a keyboard or pausing to bang out a succession of pay-attention chords. Her clear, no-nonsense voice sang with the fervor of her age – 25 – and of her beliefs in love, betrayal, anger, and dismay. Already an award-winning success in Australia, she spoke of temporarily relocating in Los Angeles – the center of the music business – slowly building her profile, through touring and writing songs for selected film scenes. An old poster advertising "Gone With The Wind" caught her fancy, especially the "cheekiness" of Vivien Leigh (Scarlet) and the sensuality of Clark Gable (Rhett) locked in a passionate embrace which inspired the writing of "Angela" and the repeated phrase, "You’re a danger he’s addicted to." Toss in "Scar,"and Missy’s profile jumped.

The hoots and hollers burst forth when the reasons for the sold-out house appeared – dark Emily Saliers and blonde Amy Ray, the musically electrifying and compelling Indigo Girls. For more than 20 years, they have built a legion of followers who adore them and their blend of folk rock – and whatever embellishments and surprises they incorporate. The fans know all the lyrics and sing along continuously. Occasionally when Emily stepped away from her mike, a row of white lights strung across the proscenium arch shone into the audience, illuminating the dedicated choir, their singing in sync with The Girls. Excitement surged whenever Emily got into the music, knees bent, jamming. Amy focused, serene. Emily into another plane. Wild shouts from fans dancing in place. "The Power of Two." Yes! Then, "I was waiting for me."... "I’m all washed up when Poseidon has his day."... "Land of Canaan" and the screaming and whooping hit higher decimals.

Emily Saliers has said, "Creating harmonies with someone is magical; it’s a whole other side of performing." Amy Ray has reaffirmed the principle that drives the Indigo Girls: "It’s all about living in the moment...and trying to make it better than the moment that came before," a comment in tune with the beautifully restored Mahaiwe.