concert reviews

Melissa Ferrick Shows The Power of One
Melissa Ferrick and Erin McKeown at the Birchmere, Alexandria, VA, Thursday 30 March 2006

Folk singer Melissa Ferrick has often been compared to Ani DiFranco because of her strong business sense (both run their own record labels) and open sexuality. On Thursday night at the Birchmere, Ferrick showed her sonic similarities to DiFranco as well: her swift finger-picking, booming voice and onstage charisma.

Alone onstage for much of her 90-minute set, Ferrick struck the perfect balance between chatter and songs. She laughed as she described the woman who had inspired the song "Every Three Words": "The good news is, I wrote this song before I figured out that she doesn't really want me!" Ferrick's compelling performance kept the audience silent all night, through old songs (the seductive "Drive") as well as a string of new ones, such as the jangly and bright "Never Give Up," the impassioned "Inside" and, most strikingly, the reverent "Rest Now," written for the late Chris Whitley.

Although opener Erin McKeown sounded stunning on one solo song, she performed most of her set backed by a keyboardist and drummer who pounded any subtlety out of her music. However, she shone when adding harmonies to the tender "Anything Anywhere" during Ferrick's set and sang lead on the headliner's encore -- a jaunty, accordion-driven cover of "Ring of Fire," with Ferrick on trumpet.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 1 April 2006; Page C05
.: Selected discography: The Other Side (Melissa Ferrick, 2004); 70 People at 7000 Feet (Melissa Ferrick, 2003); Listen Hard (Melissa Ferrick, 2002); Skinnier, Faster, Live at the B.P.C. (Melissa Ferrick, 2001); Valentine Heartache (Melissa Ferrick, 2001); Freedom (Melissa Ferrick, 2000); Everything I Need (Melissa Ferrick, 1998); +1 (Melissa Ferrick, 1997); Willing To Wait (Melissa Ferrick, 1995); Massive Blur (Melissa Ferrick, 1993); We Will Become Like Birds (Erin McKeown, 2005).