“Cuddle in,” Holly Golightly says as she and her band take the stage at Loppen. People drift away from their tables and towards the stage and suddenly the room feels different. With dozens of albums and years as a performer behind her, no one is at this show by accident. This is a friendly audience that is ready to oblige.
“We’ve got a new setlist: Same songs different order,” she says. A chuckle goes around the room and Gollightly remarks, “It’s funny because it’s true.”
It will, indeed, be the running gag of the evening. The band will tease each other about what song is next, who actually starts the songs, who actually has decent enough vision to read the set lists. It’s also true that if you’ve seen Golightly at some point in the last decade, or listened to a live album, you’ve heard some version of this collection of songs: Of Golightly’s clipped voice, her ramshackle guitar, her line between Americana and blues with a little garage holdover.
It does make the set reasonably representative of her work, from her standard opener “Crow Jane” to “Satan is His Name” off last year’s Do the Get Along; even Brokeoffs’ track “Mule Skinner” makes its way in as a dedication to everyone who has to go to work on Monday morning.
Beyond all the quips about the band’s lack of professionalism, there are moments that take you by surprise. Golightly never really fully shifted her punk snarl to a country twang; she always maintained an appealing roughness to her vocals. But for jazzy number “My Love Is,” with the band stripped back to just bass and percussion, her vocals completely smooth out to a croon. Watching her, it’s suddenly clear that she could push her voice to very different depths if she wanted to. She could abandon the blues, Americana, garage rock all together and remake herself in a different image.
But then again, you don’t stick around in music this long without keeping a few tricks up your sleeve.