Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ellis Paul at McCabe’s, 10-25-14 Concert Review

Ellis Paul and Radoslav Lorkovic during soundcheck
It might sometimes seem like there isn’t that much you can count on in life. But one thing I’ve learned to count on is an Ellis Paul concert, which is guaranteed to raise my spirits. Ellis Paul always puts on a good show, and always makes a genuine connection with his audience. Saturday night he performed at McCabe’s in Santa Monica, doing many of the tracks from his wonderful new album, Chasing Beauty.

He kicked off the set with the album’s title track, first talking about how the song was inspired by his first road trip. And his story brought me back to my first road trip when I was in my teens (like nearly all of my road trips, it was music-related), and made me want to hit the road again. Sure, it won’t be the same, but I think the road still holds some magic (especially if there's a concert at the end of it). He followed that with “Drive-In Movie,” also from the new CD.  It’s interesting that the first two songs of his set had a nostalgic feel, a look back while also an optimistic look forward.

Radoslav Lorkovic then joined him on piano, and they played “Maria’s Beautiful Mess,” still one of my personal favorites. This is a song that always works for me, and this rendition was beautiful. When one of the folks at McCabe’s put a foam cover over Ellis’ vocal microphone after that song, Ellis joked that they’re worried about Ebola.

Rebecca Loebe then joined Ellis on backing vocals for most of the rest of the set. By the way, she did a really sweet opening set. I had seen her perform a couple of years ago in Massachusetts, and it was a treat to see her again. She also provides backing vocals on Ellis Paul’s new album, on the track “Love Is A Curious Thing.” The first song they performed together last night was “Kick Out The Lights,” which of course was complete with the audience participation part. This was a fantastic rendition, with some wonderful stuff on piano by Radoslav.

Ellis followed that with “Rose Tattoo.” Before the song he talked about how it was a metaphor. “I’m telling you that because people come up to me after shows to show me their rose tattoos.” This is such a beautiful song, and Rebecca’s vocals blended so well with Ellis’ voice. Ellis also played harmonica on this one, and ended the song with the line “Like a metaphorical rose,” which got a laugh.

Ellis Paul has improvised several songs at McCabe’s over the years, and last night he revisited one about the store itself, which is titled “This Is Where All Good Trees Go” (which he originally performed in 2011). That led to “Hurricane Angel” and a nice cover of “If I Had A Hammer,” both with Ellis on piano and Radoslav on accordion. Rebecca Loebe took the second verse of “If I Had A Hammer.” Ellis also did a sweet cover of Joni Mitchell’s “The Circle Game.”

In addition to Chasing Beauty, Ellis Paul has a new children’s book out. It’s titled The Hero In You, and includes a CD. Last night he read Thomas Edison, accompanied by Radoslav on piano, which was really cool. He first borrowed a pair of reading glasses from an audience member. By the way, he also mentioned that Chasing Beauty is going to be released on vinyl. (I seriously need to get my turntable fixed – or replaced.)

Ellis ended the set with “Take All The Sky You Need,” another personal favorite. The encore was “Home,” with Ellis on piano and Radoslav on accordion. I think this is one of Ellis Paul's most moving songs. A gorgeous ending to a great night.

Set List

  1. Chasing Beauty
  2. Drive-In Movie
  3. Maria’s Beautiful Mess
  4. Kick Out The Lights
  5. Rose Tattoo
  6. Alice’s Champagne Palace
  7. This Is Where All Good Trees Go
  8. Hurricane Angel
  9. If I Had A Hammer
  10. Love Is A Curious Thing
  11. The Circle Game
  12. Wasted
  13. Thomas Edison
  14. Never Want To Lose You
  15. Take All The Sky You Need


  1. Home
Ellis Paul's set was approximately an hour and forty-five minutes.

"Maria's Beautiful Mess"
borrowing reading glasses
"Thomas Edison"

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