LIVE REVIEW: An Evening with Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield – Columbus, OH – 3/18/15

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Seth Avett of the Avett Brothers and singer/songwriter Jessica Lea Mayfield have embarked on a journey together celebrating the late Elliott Smith. The journey has included releasing a cover album of Smith’s music, Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith, and now they are out on tour together. They rolled through Columbus, Ohio, on March 18 at the Southern Theatre with their tour titled “An Evening with Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield.” It was a beautiful venue, and the perfect destination for their show.

They had a very simple setup for the night that included just three musicians: Seth Avett, who switched between an acoustic guitar, harmonica and a grand piano, Jessica Lea Mayfield who played her acoustic guitar, and upright bassist Paul Defiglia. The stage setup included a kitchen set that Mayfield used throughout the show to make hot tea in the middle of the performance. The stage created a very warm, calm environment throughout the show. The crowd consisted of a mix of Smith fans coming out to hear some of their favorite songs live, Avett Brothers fans and Mayfield’s fans. Avett had an unbelievable stage presence that kept the audience engaged throughout the night. Mayfield spent most of the night hugging her acoustic guitar or holding her hands behind her back, but if you know her as a musician, you knew that going into the night. Her voice speaks for itself, and makes up for her awkward stage presence.

The two musicians made the night very worthwhile and made it through 21 songs by the end of the show. They played a variety of songs, including some not recorded by Smith. The setlist consisted of almost all the  tracks from their new release, a song by Smith that was not included on the album, Avett’s music, Mayfield’s music and covers from other artists like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Dillards, Hank Williams and the Beatles. They chose some of these artists as there were inspirations for themselves as musicians, but also for Smith when he was writing and recording his music. The variety in the setlist kept the show moving and allowed for anyone in the crowd to be familiar with at least a couple of songs if they didn’t know Smith’s work prior to the show.

Avett and Mayfield’s vocals are something else when performed live. They were just as beautiful, if not better than what was represented on the cover album. Singly, each voice is different from one another. When joined, they flow as if they were made to sing together.

It was a pleasure to be in the crowd for this show. The room exploded with cheer after each song making Avett and Mayfield feel at home. Avett had spoken about his nerves during the show, but took a moment to talk with the crowd about how happy he was with everyone’s reaction because it made it that much easier to do with confidence. It was a wonderful celebration between fans of Elliott Smith, including those on and off stage. Before performing each Smith song, Avett or Mayfield would announce the title and include that it was written by Elliott Smith. Even though the crowd knew it was Smith’s work, the respect and love that these two musicians have for Smith is undeniable.

Setlist:
“Baby Britain” – Elliott Smith
“A Fond Farewell” – Elliott Smith
“Between the Bars” – Elliott Smith
“Just Like a Woman” – Bob Dylan
“Out on the Weekend” – Neil Young
“There Is A Time” – The Dillards
“Pitseleh” – Elliott Smith
“Ballad of Big Nothing” – Elliott Smith
“Rain on My Tin Roof” – Seth Avett
“Settin’ the Woods on Fire” –  Hank Williams
“Somebody That I Used to Know” – Elliott Smith
“For Today” – Jessica Lea Mayfield
“Angeles” – Elliott Smith
“The Beginning” – Seth Avett
“Standing in the Sun” – Jessica Lea Mayfield
“Memory Lane” – Elliott Smith
“I Will” – The Beatles
“Our Hearts Are Wrong” – Jessica Lea Mayfield
“Let’s Get Lost” – Elliott Smith
“I’ll Me Mine” – The Beatles
“Miss Misery” – Elliott Smith [not included on cover album]
“Twilight” – Elliott Smith