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Scott Avett’s clear, strong a cappella on the opening notes of “Shame” set the tone Friday night at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Avett Brothers are gifted singers and songwriters, blending exquisite harmonies, compelling lyrics and powerful vocals all in a mix of bluegrass, folk and rock.
They also are talented musicians – Seth on guitar; Scott on banjo and kick drum; both taking turns on keyboards; joined by Joe Kwon on cello; Jacob Edwards on drums; and Paul DeFiglia playing stand-up bass in place of regular band member Bob Crawford. But they rarely let the instruments overpower their songs
The not-quite-packed but very enthusiastic crowd showed love to the North Carolina boys, clapping, dancing and singing along to many of the band’s songs.
The stripped down set – reminiscent of an old-time movie theatre complete with red swag drapes and a faded roses backdrop – allowed the music to remain center stage.
The band showed lots of energy, working their way through “Will You Return” and the fast-paced “The Fall.” But they slowed things down for the hauntingly beautiful “I and Love and You.” As the crowd sang the final five words to the song the melancholy was palpable.
The band didn’t let that last, winding into the discordant “Paranoia in B Flat Major.” Scott turned his banjo into a percussion instrument, and the brothers riffed some incredible falsettos.
The lovely “January Wedding” juxtaposed against the darker “Matrimony” showed the brothers’ range between sentimental and harder rock. The beautiful “Salina” with it’s classical music ending brought a roar of approval from the crowd.
“Lotta love in the room, lotta love in the room,” Seth Avett said.
“Slight Figure of Speech” is an eclectic song – almost reminiscent of old surfer music with a harder edge.
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