October 21, 2008

Injured Indie Queen Rocks Castaways

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A single yellow light began to shine on singer-songwriter Mirah just before 10 p.m. on Sunday evening, and it continued to beam directly on her for the next hour as she entertained an engaged audience at Castaways in downtown Ithaca. The shoeless singer took to her chair at center stage, tuned her guitar, readied her amplifier and apologized to the audience.
She explained that she had to sit down while performing because a drum had fallen on her foot the night before. — thankfully no bones in her foot were broken.
She joked about the injury saying, “At least it wasn’t my hand,” as she delved right into her first song of the night, “Location Temporary.” The bar, filled with around 200 people, had been consumed with chatter throughout the opening acts (Vancouver-based indie-pop group No Kids and local singer-songwriter Jennie Stearns), but fell silent for Mirah.
Her voice during the performance was gorgeous; so much so, in fact, that an audience member yelled out, “You’re beautiful!” at the end of the first tune. Mirah replied, “You should look at my foot!” And so it was that Mirah’s injured limb remained a central component of the evening’s proceedings.
Before continuing on to her next song, “We’re Both So Sorry,” the seemingly vulnerable songstress professed that she hadn’t “figured out how to play sitting down.” Regardless, she exuded complete comfort.
As she sang a new track from her forthcoming album, followed by the older “Advisory Committee” (from the album of the same name), it was evident that Mirah is a talent best appreciated in the flesh. As a vocalist and guitarist, the Philadelphia-native’s sound puts her amongst the likes of Sarah Harmer or the Stars’ Amy Milan. She has the sweetest singing voice, but still knows how to rock. At just the right times she’ll break away from her natural electric-acoustic feel to fully embrace the electric guitar sound. As the performance progressed, it became more and more obvious that, as good as Mirah is on her recordings, she’s rises to new amazing heights in front of a live crowd.
Although outwardly comfortable, the singer’s uneasiness in her chair later led to a lovely stretchig break, during which she sang a short a capella song as the audience snapped along. The active audience participation was a nice change-of-pace as it readied the crowd to hear Mirah’s older song, “Don’t Die in Me,” and then another newbie tune.
The foot pains must have subsided for a short while, because at the end of these two songs, Mirah enjoyed several minutes worth of story telling before realizing a new level of comfort. She immediately snapped out of her speaking voice and darted right back into her singing one with “Mt. St. Helens,” “Life You Love,” and “The Sun.” In the middle of “Life You Love,” Mirah paused, further elaborating on her recent physical hardships by informing the audience that just before her current tour began she had sliced off the end of her pinky finger. Then, during the most poignant moment of the evening, Mirah sang an ode to her drum shattered foot.
Mirah sang three older songs and then tossed on her flip-flops and limped off stage. Loud clapping persisted until Mirah returned for a much-demanded encore. The first song, “Cold, Cold Water,” was the strongest song of her set. It was followed by the audience-requested “Jerusalem,” which she called “a pinky song” because it required the use of her sliced pinky to be played.
Just before 11 p.m., Mirah stood up — bad foot and shortened pinky — and all and finished her set with “The Garden.” She got the entire crowd on their (perhaps more functional) feet to stomp, clap and jump (as best as they could) in unison, while she sang out, giving the audience one last chance to take in her splendid vocals as she concluded this 5th stop on her northeastern tour.