Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Burhenn and Davis leave room for growth

Sandwiched in between May or May Not and Aqueduct, Georgie James seemed a natural presence on Schubas’ stage Monday night. The distinctly blonde duo of Laura Burhenn and John Davis were the spitting image of their album cover, though their bandmates—two normal-looking brown-haired guys—seemed not quite to fit the Georgie James “look.” However, bassist Michael Cotterman and drummer Andrew Black did provide apt accompaniment.

Laura Burhenn was the most engaging of the band, alternately focusing on the keyboard and lifting her doll-lake face to the mic. Though Burhenn proved somewhat compelling, overall the band’s energy did not reach beyond a very moderate level of rocking out. Their sound was undoubtedly rawer than the sound on the album as it echoed through Schubas’ wooden interior, but I found myself missing the tighter and more distinctly harmonic sound on Places.

“Cake Parade,” a standout track on Georgie James’ album, was also the standout number of their live set. The live version worked well in its ability to vary tempo, dynamics and instrumentation in order to create a more dramatic rendering of the song without eschewing the recording’s bouncy appeal. “Need Your Needs” was another pleasing number, with John Davis nodding in time to the beats as he sang the wise yet fun-loving lyrics “I don’t miss my evil days.”

Georgie James’ album Places is such solid work that any performance, especially for a new band with only one album under its belt, is a tough sell in terms of matching the expectations of listeners. In testimony to the band’s success, audience members could be seen bobbing their heads while mouthing the lyrics—and this after the band’s debut album came out less than two months ago. Clearly, I’m not the only one who’s gotten to know this album inside and out.

According to John Davis, Georgie James should be back in the city in the spring, and I’d be curious to see how their live performance comes off then. Both Davis and Burhenn exude admirable concentration and inner musical sense onstage, and if they simply tightened and intensified their onstage musicality, their live show might break even with the high caliber of their recorded work. –Cory Robertson