Concert Review: Brandi Carlile at Capitol Theater

photos by Jeff O'Kelley

magine a girl born to sing. A girl who, at a very young age, channels the likes of Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash, but growing up in dreary Seattle, is surrounded by visceral and dangerous contemporaries like Nirvana and The Supersuckers. At age 16, she lands a gig as a backup singer to an Elvis impersonator, is eventually diagnosed with ADHD, and instead of medicating herself down the long, hard road to the middle, drops out of high school to focus on writing and performing her own music.

Brandi Carlile was signed to Columbia records at age 23 and has been on the road non-stop. Her third and most recent album, Give Up the Ghost, was produced by Rick Rubin and features an appearance by Elton John. Carlile's repertoire is a mash-up of country, pop, folk and indie rock. It displays the kind of craftsmanship that should force lesser artists, like Carrie Underwood, into early retirement. But it's her voice that seals the deal. Carlile is capable of incredible vocal range, from a guttural and deliberate baritone to a smoky, haunting falsetto, and it's the traversing of the two that lands a hook squarely in your chest.

Last night, Carlile kicked off the "Give Up the Ghost Traveling Show" (her first headlining tour of Florida) to a sold-out crowd at Clearwater's Capitol Theater. And the crowd had been waiting.

Several times, to standing ovations and raucous applause, Carlile was genuinely blissed-out and smiling, repeatedly thanking the crowd and telling them how "amazing" they were.

At the end of the night, however, it was Brandi who proved to be amazing.