Paramore, Jimmy Eat World
Jimmy Eat World and Paramore seem like an odd pair for a co-headlining tour: The former has been a steady fixture in the emo scene since the mid-'90s, while the latter is a pop-punk band whose career is just starting to take off, with a Best New Artist Grammy nomination and a handful of hot singles.
When the tour hit town Saturday night at American University's Bender Arena, Paramore took the stage first, but played as if they owned the place. Frontwoman Hayley Williams's tormented vocals and infectious energy were captivating; even the antics that could've trespassed into cliche territory (fist-pumping, headbanging her bright orange hair) seemed genuinely enthusiastic. The singles "Misery Business" and "Crushcrushcrush" were the obvious standouts, but the band even pulled off a mellow ballad. "When It Rains" was the slowest song in Paramore's hour-long set, but Williams's emotive melody projected just as much power as on the rest of their angst-filled songs.
After that display of conviction, Jimmy Eat World could have seemed like has-beens by comparison. Instead, the quartet's set featured hit song after hit song -- and the ones that weren't actual hits sure sounded as though they should've been. The power chords, earnest vocals, harmonies and super-speedy rhythms that made "The Middle" and "Sweetness" such catchy tunes permeated every song, making for a set that was inherently danceable and singalongable, if a bit repetitive.
-- Catherine P. Lewis
Judy Collins wouldn't give her exact age during her Friday night Birchmere performance, but admitted, "I did take Social Security this year." Because the folk singer's voice sounded as good as it did in her 20s, the only clues to her approximate age were that quip and her recounting of her 40-year career through anecdotes and songs.
Collins's musical autobiography ranged from "John Riley," included on her 1961 debut "Maid of Constant Sorrow," to "Blackbird" and "Norwegian Wood" from her 2007 album of John Lennon and Paul McCartney covers.
Collins, who appeared with Amy Speace, an artist on Collins's Wildflower Records, talked about her beginnings as a pianist and how songs such as "Goodnight Irene" pulled her away from classical music. She recalled playing Gerde's Folk City in New York and seeing a 13-year-old Arlo Guthrie there, as well as Bob Dylan, whom she called "scruffy -- even by '60s standards." She sang Dylan's "Dark Eyes," as well as a bit of "Mr. Tambourine Man," after telling a story about staying at the home of his manager one night and waking up to Dylan singing it.
She talked about meeting Joni Mitchell and singing her songs ("Chelsea Morning," "That Song About the Midway"); meeting Leonard Cohen and singing his songs ("Suzanne"); and finally deciding to start writing some music of her own ("Since You've Asked"). Collins finished with "Send In the Clowns," naturally, but by the end of the show, it was apparent that her enduring, best-known song is just one small piece of her story.
-- Sarah Godfrey