Review - Amanda Shires @ the Great American Music Hall (10/12/22)

Sean Reiter

Amanda Shires @ the Great American Music Hall (Photo: Sean Reiter)
Amanda Shires @ the Great American Music Hall (Photo: Sean Reiter)

Amanda Shires delivered a rousing return to the Great American Music Hall on Wednesday night in a performance that ranged from chilling moments of heartbreak to an epic in the audience dance party.

Shires began the night with three songs from her 2019 “To the Sunset” album. A rocking “Eve’s Daughter” led into a rollicking “Break Out The Champagne” and a haunting “White Feather” with Shires bouncing between roles as fiddle, electric guitar and torch singer.

Shires next went deep into material from her new album “Take It Like A Man” – centered around her self-reflection /awakening from Covid into the true-to-self artist who took the stage to a full house on this night. “Take It Like a Man” gracefully shifts tone from strong and seemingly impenetrable to achingly vulnerable and the audience fully embraced Shires’ confident navigation through the range of emotions.

Amanda Shires @ the Great American Music Hall (Photo: Sean Reiter)
Amanda Shires @ the Great American Music Hall (Photo: Sean Reiter)

A powerful “Empy Cups” was followed by a beautifully haunting rendition of “Fault Lines” with soaring Fender leads by longtime touring guitarist Zach Setchfield and then into a mischievous “Here He Comes.” Throughout the show, Shires moved between showing off the fiddle prowess that made her a Nashville legend and demonstrating her playful, prancing side with only mic in hand. “Stupid Love” saw her embrace a Stax sound while Shires stretched “Lonely at Night” into a drifting mood that could easily have landed in 1970’s Laurel Canyon.

Shires clearly enjoyed the audience and her return to San Francisco, sharing how she had bought her tights for the evening in The Haight earlier in the day only to realize that they were purposely filled with rips. “I’m standing up here in front of you in the tights version of assless chaps” she joked. “These may be normal in San Francisco but wait until I tell everyone in Nashville.”

A return to 2018 with a powerful rendition of “Parking Lot Pirouette” saw audience members leap from their seats to sing along before the tempo was calmed once again with an acoustic portion of the set, spotlighting the deep connection between Setchfield and Shires. “Don’t Be Alarmed” led into 2016’s “Pale Fire” with the very timely “The Problem” – a song centered around a couple’s discussion and emotions around abortion.

The final acoustic duet saw Shires visit her supergroup with the self-titled “The Highwomen.” Shires took on all four voices with a soaring and powerful version that received the largest audience reaction of the night. A former member of John Prine’s band, Shires honored his legacy with a galloping version of “Saddle In the Rain.”

Amanda Shires @ the Great American Music Hall (Photo: Sean Reiter)
Amanda Shires @ the Great American Music Hall (Photo: Sean Reiter)

Feeling the audience’s love and appreciation (“How about if you all do a quiet quit of your jobs and join us for the rest of the tour?”), Shires pulled an ad lib and launched the band into a cover of Harry Styles’ “Late Night Talking.” Encouraging the audience to dance, she exited the stage and joined the crowd as a dance party broke out in the middle of the Great American Music Hall. Shires finished the night shifting from exuberance to delivering 2011’s heart aching Kudzu on an empty stage and lone spotlight without accompaniment.

Opening the show, was Nashville’s Honey Harper who brought a three-piece acoustic approach to material from his soon-to-be-released second album “Honey Harper and The Infinite Sky” album. “Boot Mine Gold” was a standout Harper leapt off the stage to deliver a solo, unmic’d version of “4:30 am” dedication to his co-writing and co-producer wife and newborn baby he had to leave for the road.

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Amanda Shires Setlist Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA, USA 2022, Take It Like a Man

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