“I haven’t been here since 1999, so I didn’t know who was coming,” mused Patty Griffin last Wednesday night from the Lobero stage. “But here y’all are.” If Griffin seemed surprised by the turnout to this installment of Sings Like Hell, then the response the Austin-based singer/songwriter received to her performance must have been completely overwhelming. As Griffin’s set built, so, too, did the regard from those assembled-to the point where she commanded two enduring standing ovations.
Accompanied by an upright bassist, percussionist, and a pianist, Griffin took to the stage and stormed her way through gorgeous renditions of “Hang On St. Christopher” and “Chief.” After filling the room with their soulful take on Americana, her bandmates then left Griffin to her own devices. Bathed in the glow of the spotlight and armed with nothing more than her acoustic guitar and smoldering vocals, Griffin launched into “Top of the World” and “Waiting for My Child to Come Home” that immersed the theater in the sweetest of melancholy tunes.
With the reemergence of her ensemble, the mood was realigned once more. “Go Now” encapsulated an aura of silky jazz much in the same vein of a classic standard, while “Truth #2” offered the collective the opportunity to go “hillbilly.” In closing out her set with “No Bad News,” Griffin brought the audience to their feet for a rousing ovation that aptly reflected what had emanated from the stage. This was by no means the first time a Sings Like Hell artist was given such consideration, but seldom few have deserved it more.
When she returned to the stage, Griffin fumbled with her guitar strings and joked about her “low tuning standards.” But as her guitar tweaked and twanged through “Nobody’s Cryin’,” Griffin’s rich vocals provided the perfect platform upon which to launch an impassioned assault. While the evening was littered with beautiful songs of sorrow and sadness, the most poignant part of the night was simply her departure from the stage. We might have had to wait nine entire years between Patty Griffin visits but, as soon as the lights rose in the Lobero, I, for one, was missing her already.