Monday, January 20, 2003

Kaplansky wins over packed house

18-song set explored highs, lows of love

By Jeff Wilson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The last time singer-songwriter Lucy Kaplansky performed in this area she played the Southgate House in Newport. On Friday night she tried a different venue, the 20th Century in Oakley, which has started hosting more folk musicians.

For Friday's show, it was a perfect match. It helped that the acoustics were superb, revealing just how full a room can sound with just an acoustic guitar and a voice. And it helped that Ms. Kaplansky's audience nearly doubled from her last visit, with every seat taken.

Along with long-term fans came many people who were catching her for the first time, and everyone listened so attentively the nightclub felt like a concert hall as she sang tales of lust, betrayal, heartbreak and bliss.

The concert opened with her rendition of the country-sounding "Cowboy Singer" by Dave Carter, the first of many slow, brooding songs that surfaced during her 18-song, 90-minute set. Other early highlights included "The Tide," the title track of her first album, and the darkly erotic "Scorpion."

The energy level rose with an impassioned cover from The Beatles' Rubber Soul. "I'm Looking Through You" called to mind the late Michael Hedges, whose lively solo performances of classic rock songs carried a hint of wish-fulfillment, as if, since early adolescence, he secretly fantasized about emulating his favorite rock stars. For most of us this phase begins and ends with private air guitar sessions (on which Ms. Kaplansky proved well-informed during between-song banter), but the lucky few can live out that dream.

The lows and highs and mysteries of love resurfaced throughout the set, sometimes between songs. During her prelude to "Ten Year Night," Ms. Kaplansky confessed that she is still learning about true love. "My husband and I recently attended a Philadelphia Eagles football game together," she told the audience. "Enough said."

Ms. Kaplansky, who lives in Manhattan, wrote "The Land of the Living" in response to SepT. 11. , The lyrics describe New Yorkers she saw shortly after the terrorist attack.

The show closed with "Broken Things," a ballad by Julie Miller, and one encore, "Just You Tonight."

During his five-song, half-hour set, opener Andrew Kerr quickly won over the audience with "Don't Forget Your Fans," about a Britney Spears fan letter he erroneously received, and "Special K," a memento to his failure as a rap singer.

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