September 26, 2016
It was so heartening to see Anais Mitchell sell out the Tin Angel on Friday. Mitchell has always been under the radar, but her star seems to have risen to new heights this year with an outstanding off-Broadway musical production of her concept album “Hadestown.” But to see her live and hear her mini-epic poem lyrics matched with her lush, wool voice and stunning guitar work is to witness a musical wonder.
The highlights were plentiful. The title track to her 2012 masterpiece “Young Man in America” is a textured novella while that album’s “Tailor,” one of many crowd requests, is a maelstrom of emotions that always makes me tear up. The loudest request was for “Hadestown’s” “Why We Build the Wall.” As Mitchell reminded everyone, the song has creatively existed for 10 years, but its resonance with the current election and the refrain of “we build the wall to keep us free” is prescient and horrifying. Great art does not exist in a vacuum and songs can shift meanings with the times.
Another bard made an appearance in cover form during the encore as Wilmington-born, Tony-award-winning opener John Gallagher Jr. joined Mitchell to celebrate Bruce Springsteen’s birthday with a brilliant cover of “Atlantic City.”