Live at the MFA
My [sister] invited me to go to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts to see Keren Ann. The headliner was Juana Molina, who was someone she’d heard of but never seen. First time, we noted, that we’d ever been to a concert together!
Keren Ann, the daughter of a Javanese-Dutch mother and a Russian-Israeli father, had a very cool smoky voice. She was backed up by a guitar player and a keyboardist who, among his other instrumental duties, very precisely meted out notes from a xylophone. He was cool. Keren Ann sang a couple songs in French too…very pleasant.
The surprise of the evening was Juana Molina, who stomped out on stage complaining about having to move the speakers herself (one of them was apparently out of place). She was dressed up kind of like a dorky little girl, and from the one-man band setup, we were starting to feel a little anxious about what we were about to be subjected to.
As it turned out, Molina was the real draw of the evening. She used to be a popular television comedienne in Argentina, then decided to focus on her music, which she sings in Spanish. She plays all the instruments herself, laying down backing tracks using a real-time synthesizer setup…no computer screens, she just inputs the notes “live” and builds up the song in bits. It’s mesmerizing. It became really amazing when she was belting out some rhythm guitar, and then we noticed that she had stopped playing and had started to harmonize over it…she had done a live sample of her guitar playing and had looped it. She then proceeded to layer and harmonizing her voice with itself…absolutely astounding. By the end of the performance, she had been transformed from “dork girl” to “performance diva” in my eyes. I love it when that happens… the last time I witnessed this was at Club Passim with Tracy Grammar… she looked like a tired grad student at the beginning of the show, but by the end she looked to me like one of the Goddesses of Rock. Just awesome.