The Indigo Girls brought a lifetime worth of heartfelt tunes and an impressive array of instruments to the South Shore Room at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe on Friday, March 24, to the thrill of a roaring house of devoted fans.
Accompanied by Lyris Hung on violin, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers played a wide range of tunes, from the iconic fan favorites to the recently written.
“Y’all singing out there?” Saliers asked the crowd before leaping into “Power of Two.”
“Because this is a real singalong kind of song.”
A tune touting poetry in motion from “Three Hits” caught my ear early on, with a driving, slightly eerie melody featuring some moving violin leads laid over Ray and Saliers’ dynamic harmonies.
The trio sounded great, both vocally and instrumentally. The Indigo Girls’ voices were rich and powerful, dynamic and moving with their intertwining harmonies and soaring individual lines. Ray and Salier’s upbeat strumming set a rhythmic foundation, while Hung and Salier peppered each tune with numerous fiddle and guitar leads.
A particularly fun moment came on “Shame on You.” Saliers kicked out an electric banjo solo mid-song, before passing it off to Hung for a fiddle lead. While she was at it, the sound tech brought Saliers an electric guitar, for which she switched out the banjo, picking up where Hung left off with a folk-bluesy guitar solo.
Hats off also to the group’s sound tech, who drew frequent cheers from the crowd. The Indigo Girls switched axes just about every song, varying between half a dozen Martin guitars, two or three electric guitars, a mandolin, an electric banjo, and more.
“We love the guitar guy,” a fan called out after yet another quick transition.
“We love him too, we need him,” Ray said with a smile.
Saliers did a moving, slow number at one point with Hung, a tune from her first ever solo album, “Train Inside,” which is due for release later this year.
“I could not have done it without Lyris Hung, who produced the whole thing,” Saliers said.
“Train Inside” was a conversation with a here today, gone tomorrow lover, full of tension and tenderness, patience and frustration. Another moving performance was “Love’s Recovery,” a weepy song with soaring harmonies and wistful melodies.
One of my favorites of the evening was “Elizabeth,” the opening track from the duo’s 2015 studio album “One Lost Day,” about being wild kids in Louisiana.
“It’s also a song about how some things are best left in memory,” Saliers said while introducing it. “No Facebook on this one.”
The Indigo Girls are anything but a memory, fortunately for the hundreds of obviously diehard fans in the crowd. Walking around and watching the audience, it seemed that two people were singing along for every one that wasn’t. Cheers and catcalls filled every break, and so many song requests were called out that Ray and Saliers could barely hear them all, let alone accommodate them.
“Thank you, you’re so sweet,” Saliers replied to a fan who had thrown out a request during the group’s encore. “But we’re going to do this other one.”
Of course, it was “Closer to Fine,” for which many had obviously been waiting all night. It will now be stuck in my head for at least a week, and I’m totally fine with it.
The Indigo Girls did go to the mountain, as it turns out, and a throng of adoring fans clearly can’t wait for them to return.