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The stellar talent of Patty Griffin shines

Botanic Garden amphitheatre, Denver, July 31, 2007

Reviewed by Corinne Brown

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True to Patty Griffin's solid reputation as a great road artist - she's been touring since January - she opened strong and sultry. Her sheer conviction came through when she sang "people want to know what it feels like to fly. . ." She can make a believer out of anyone.

Griffin did many of her originals, including the never recorded, "Riding With The Amazon." When she sat down to the piano, with which she's just as comfortable as her big guitar, she reminded the crowd that she's been to known to be "fond of a good sad song but that lately, she's been attempting to write a cheerful one." "Burgundy Shoes," a song about her youth growing up in Maine, was just that. Mellow but joyful, her piano was so fluid and full.

Not enough can be said about her impeccable back-up artists - Doug Lancio on lead guitar, Frank Sport on electric bass, Bryn Davies on upright bass and cello and Michael Longoria on percussion. When they walked off to let her do a few numbers solo, it was if the lights went out. Griffin's good, but she's outstanding with them behind her.

On the downside, the fact that the open air theater is in the round, with four sloping sides to an inverted pyramid, meant that Griffin had her back to one-fourth of the audience all night long. Unfortunately, Griffin never turned around even once, while her band members did constantly. Maybe it was due to the position of the microphones.

Her finale, before the three encores, "Up to the Mountain," a tribute to Martin Luther King, was appropriate considering Denver's setting. But by that time, she could have sung anything she wanted. She had the audience mesmerized. There's stellar talent in the new breed of tough and gritty female singers like Griffith, Beth Orton and Sheryl Crow. An evening like this one, with its blend of alternative folk rock, Texas-style gospel and blues that left a screaming audience begging for more, shows you just how ready music lovers are for their sound.