Michelle Shocked at Headliners

By Paul Moffett

When Michelle Shocked was last at Headliners, she arrived in a station wagon, towing the band's gear in a trailer. For this trip, she had a bus. Furthermore, she has apparently moved from LA to New Orleans. The changes may be the result of arriving at the big four-oh or perhaps she settled with the record company and got paid but whatever the cause, it had not affected her music.

The band on stage. Photo by Paul Moffett

She arrived with the same band as she had last year, including Hothouse Flowers' Fianchna O'Braonain on guitar and penny whistle, with the minor addition of the drummer's young son, who added a bit of percussion on the first couple of tunes, before wandering off to sleep.

The band hit the stage in the pocket and stayed that way for two-and-a-half hours, following Shocked closely as she led the assembled worshipers - for they were worshipers - in a recitation of the gospel according to Michelle. At times, she looked like nothing less than a Texas revivalist preacher, arms raised to the heavens, calling down the fire. And it was fiery, all right. Shocked has long abandoned the folk ethic for the rock and roll mantra - she has moved to groove city and she was really there on this night, even on the famous tunes from the past. Most of what she did were songs she did last year - I confess to not really keeping notes, but only living in the moment myself, bouncing and dancing.

Checking some web postings, I found some that were not so complimentary, complaining about Shocked's irritability at fans who were demanding or inconsiderate. It's easy to see that she could get like that but Louisville fans were fortunate - she was happy to be performing, as were all the others in the band. Headliners is a room that's just the right size for the kind of intimate show that Shocked is best at and she was at her best.

For a whole bunch of photographs from the show, log onto www.headlinersmusic.net.