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Posted on Tue, May 21, 2013 : 11:13 p.m.

Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin bring it all home at the Power Center

By Bob Needham

What did you think of the concert? Leave a comment and / or vote in the poll at the end of this post:


Shawn Colvin and Mary Chapin Carpenter perform at the Power Center on Tuesday.

Chris Asadian | for

Near the start of their co-headlining concert Tuesday, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin related that they've spent a lot of time in each other's living rooms, and they wanted to bring that feeling to the Power Center.

In a way, though, the audience was ahead of them: From the moment the pair walked on stage hand-in-hand, a particularly enthusiastic welcome made it clear they were already among old friends.

The two accomplished and beloved singer-songwriter-guitarists turned in a two-hour-plus show that maintained a loose, relaxed and fun vibe, while still keeping the musicianship tight throughout. It was just the two women's voices and their guitars, but that was more than enough.

That's largely because the performances delivered a string of such well-done and well-crafted songs. At this stage in their careers, both Carpenter and Colvin have extensive songbooks of their own strong work, and they drew from throughout them. In addition, they highlighted several cover songs, invariably making smart and effective choices.

The concert opened with "Catch the Wind," and I bet Donovan wishes he could have made it sound that good. Other great covers included a thoughtful version of Steve Earle's "Someday" and a gorgeous interpretation of the Beatles' "I'll Be Back."

From her own catalog, Carpenter went back as far as the old favorite "This Shirt"; delighted fans with "He Thinks He'll Keep Her" and "I Feel Lucky"; and introduced a brand new song, "Hand On My Back," that drew some of the evening's most extended applause.

Colvin's classics included "Polaroids" and, of course, her huge hit "Sunny Came Home"; she also offered newer material like "Change is On the Way."

The two seamlessly blended full-blown duets, some songs with one singer backing up the other, and some fully solo numbers. It all worked, but they were best together; their voices harmonize terrifically, particularly as heard on Colvin's "One Cool Remove." But my favorite moment came during Carpenter's "The Hard Way," when she encouraged Colvin to sing a verse solo—while Carpenter whispered each line to her.

If at times it seemed like Carpenter and Colvin were spending as much time talking (and laughing) as singing Tuesday, that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Their rapport seems genuine, and their stories—about growing older, the songwriting process, and so on—were entertaining.

Carpenter even reminisced about her first visit to Ann Arbor, at age 19, crashing at a friend's place as she made her way to Colorado. While here, she was talked into performing one song at the open-mic night being held at The Ark—the same legendary club that sponsored Tuesday's concert.

"I've never forgotten it," Carpenter said. "Life is one great big beautiful circle."



Thu, May 23, 2013 : 12:25 a.m.

The performers were great, the guitars sounded fabulous, but the voice mikes bordered on horrible. Quite possibly the way the sound board was run, more for loud and not for clear. All too often I couldn't even tell what words the fabulous ladies were singing, and almost walked out at the 45 minute point. I did stay, mainly to hear "Sunny Came Home". But it was a disappointing night because of the lousy PA.


Sat, May 25, 2013 : 2:29 p.m.

Up in the balcony, stage right, 4 rows back. Since the guitars were sweet and clear I can't blame the PA speakers, or the balcony location.

Bob Needham

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 1:29 p.m.

Wow, that's too bad. Where were you sitting? The voices were clear where I was (right side near the front).


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

Two very gifted singers/songwriters, but they talked way to much.

Bob Needham

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 1:28 p.m.

They did talk a lot!

Bob Needham

Wed, May 22, 2013 : 2:15 p.m.

What was everyone's favorite moment or song?


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

Great Concert! Loved the stories, in between, the friendship and respect, they showed for each other! The harmonies, blended well. Even though, it was at the Power Center, the atmosphere was similar to the Ark, as a very warm and welcoming audience!

Boo Radley

Wed, May 22, 2013 : 12:16 p.m.

Spot on review of this great concert. We were very glad we were in the front row to experience this event. Was it an photographer that Carpenter shooed away from the stage at the beginning. That was just one great moment among many. ;)

Boo Radley

Wed, May 22, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.

Thanks for your reply, Bob. I wasn't surprised to see the photographer there, since that is normal for concerts, but it was kind of fun to see him shooed away.

Bob Needham

Wed, May 22, 2013 : 12:27 p.m.

Yes, it was. Of course we had permission to be there, and he thought he was in a permitted spot. Oh well.