Crowded house: A good first impression
Friday, February 11
For some reason, everyone decided that last Friday night was go time. Parking downtown was nigh impossible, and a quick peek into Fellini's No. 9 (which the bouncer attempted to charge me $3 for) told me that locale was packed to the gills with meat-bags.
Running through my photographic memory of show listings for the evening, I knew Miller's could supply me with a prowl to feed the hungry Hook beast, and soon I was seated comfortably in the also pretty crowded establishment sipping on a White Russian and eyeing the country group Full Circle as they set up. Though the crowd at Miller's was something a smaller band would envy, I was unable to decide whether most of the assorted rabble was present to see the act in question or had just blown in on the winds of fate.
Composed of two acoustic guitarists, an acoustic bassist, drummer and vocalist, the group began their set with a minute-long solo acoustic guitar and vocal folk song, and immediately I understood that the front-woman had a voice to remember. A bit country, a bit '60s female folkie, it was quite distinct and able to leap tall building in a single bound, though the acoustics at Miller's made distinguishing the words a challenge.
Soon enough the whole group got in on the act, and the rhythm guitarist joined the shaker-playing vocalist in a duet of sorts, trading off verses while harmonizing well on the choruses. Instrumentally the group was spot-on, playing off each other with a relaxed feel that suggested a long history of collaboration. At a moderate rock tempo, the song was more folk than country, but their third number of the night revealed why they bill themselves as a southern themed act.
Country blues erupted from the group as the members kept to a I-IV-V progression delivered by the group's lead guitarist in a clean uncommonly good voice. The group was reportedly playing a mixture of originals from their album and covers, but except for "Chains" by Gerry Goffin and Carole King (performed by the Beatles on their first album), I recognized none of them.
"Chains" in particular showed off the group's strengths, taking what is a more straight-ahead pop number and adding country sheen. Sung by the bassist with help on the choruses from the vocalist (every member of the group took on vocal duties at some point except for the drummer), the song raised the volume and energy of the crowd after a some slower numbers and prepared the crowd for the next few high-energy country outings.
By this point in the evening, the audience was bobbing their heads and catcalling in between the songs, two signs of a show going over well, and I was sure that, with their ability to expand beyond the country genre, Full Circle will be making people sit up and listen for a long while.
Photo by Máire Corcoran