Grammy winner Brandi Carlile closes out Mempho Music Festival

The NewsDesk
Read Time3 Minutes, 26 Seconds

Bob Mehr, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Published 11:45 p.m. CT Oct. 20, 2019 | Updated 8:38 a.m. CT Oct. 21, 2019CLOSE
Mempho Music Festival. The fans and the concerts.
Memphis Commercial AppealRoots-pop singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile closed the 2019 Mempho Music Festival with a flourish on Sunday night, bringing the third year of the concert event at Shelby Farms Park to a glorious conclusion.  While Saturday night headliners Wu-Tang Clan and The Raconteurs may have been Mempho’s more established names, Carlile was clearly the hottest act coming into the festival. Carlile became the breakout star at this year’s Grammy Awards, formed and led the female country supergroup The Highwomen, and midwifed the recent comeback LP for country veteran Tanya Tucker. Over the last few weeks, Carlile further confirmed both her popular and artistic elevation, headlining a show at New York City’s Madison Square Garden and performing a set of Joni Mitchell songs during what felt like a torch-passing concert in Los Angeles.  Buy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoAutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext SlideOn Sunday at Shelby Farms Park, Carlile arrived on stage in a shimmering orange pant suit, backed by a seven-piece band. Flanked by longtime collaborators, twin brothers Phil and Tim Hanseroth, she laid hard into the stomping and emotive opener “Hold Out Your Hand.” “Is this a singing crowd?” asked Carlile. “It feels like a singing crowd — and that’s my favorite kind of crowd!” The audience was certainly vocal and adoring, if not especially massive (Mempho organizers did not have official attendance numbers). Regardless, Carlile proceeded to play a smartly-paced 90-minute, 16-song set that moved seamlessly from galloping country-folk songs to poignant pop anthems to intimate close harmony numbers, highlighting the best work from across her half dozen studio albums. ► Mempho Music Fest recap: From the Wu-Tang Clan to The Raconteurs, here’s what happened SaturdayBlessed with an easy charisma, Carlile wore her newfound stardom well and knowingly. Yet she worked the crowd and the stage with tireless enthusiasm — while making sure to pay homage to Memphis’ musical history. “How iconic is this town?” she said, shaking her head. “I mean, this is a dream come true town.”  Later, Carlile mused about her Bluff City concert debut more than a dozen years ago. “The first time we played here was at Newby’s,” she said, referring to the Highland Strip bar. “Is it still open? Is it still open ‘til 4 a.m.?” Buy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoBuy PhotoAutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext SlideShe then proceeded to tell a fairly comic story of the Newby’s gig, about how half the PA went out, how the band proceeded to play regardless, and her especially vivid memory of the discarded crawfish heads strewn about the floor of the bar. Bantering back and forth with the crowd, Carlile quipped: “Did we just become best friends? Also, did we just write a song together?”Significantly, Carlile also paused to acknowledge Mempho’s viability as an ongoing event. “This feels like the beginning of a festival, a real festival,” she observed. Whether Mempho proves to be a permanent part of Memphis’ cultural landscape is yet to be determined. But year three showed once again that Shelby Farms is a simply stunning venue for an outdoor festival, and Carlile’s Mempho-capping set — filled with her soulful hymns and good humor — provided the perfect send-off.  Read or Share this story: https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/2019/10/20/mempho-music-festival-2019-brandi-carlile-review/4012255002/

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