John Craigie and Langhorne Slim - The Academy of Music Theatre, Northampton, MA 4/28/23
The Academy of Music Theatre in Northampton has a rich history. John Craigie and Langhorne Slim definitely appreciated the fact that Harry Houdini and Elizabeth Taylor and Ruth Gordon had performed on the same stage that they were on.
John Craigie opened the show. If you haven't seen him before, Craigie is a master storyteller. Often the story behind the song is as entertaining as the song itself. He can wonder what phase of life he's in (What Phase Is This?) or spin a tale of a San Francisco mass transit" (Westbound Bart). Standout tracks included "Laurie Rolled Me A J" and the powerful "Dissect the Bird" which warns us all not too look to closely at life mysteries, and to remember "it's a miracle, you're here at all".
Craigie and Langhorne Slim met last year at Newport Folk, and have a great musical bromance. Their styes are complimentary yet similar. Craigie is more shy, more reserved, whereas Slim is bold and assertive and theatrical. The two supported each other by tackling numerous songs together in each set.
Langhorne Slim has a presence on state that cannot be overstated. He's magnetic and born to entertain. Songs that stood out were "Changes", "House of My Soul" and "Sea of Love" (with Rachel from the audience who did a great job). On "This is the Way We Move" he joyously played while making his way through the audience. His passion and purpose were clearest on "Never Break", a ode to resilience.
Love is the key
And under the stars
I lit a flame
To Dance in the Dark
You can break my bones
You can break my heart
But you'll never break me.
Craigie came back out to join Slim for the show encores "I am California" and the John Prine classic "Angel from Montgomery".
If you are looking for a good bit to eat in Northampton, the Dirty Truth has excellent burgers - make sure to try the aioli sauce with the fries!. The Northampton Brewery is also a good option and a short walk from the venue.
Tonight's show reminded us that the feel of an old theatre, with the right performers, can help us remember to appreciate an evening out with friends, and temporarily forget our daily worries for a bit. The gift of a uniting and uplifting performance stays with us long after the show is over.
If you are curious about these artists, we've put together a playlist of some of the music from the evening.