By the time the calendar page flipped to 1998, Decatur, Ga., folk-rock duo Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, aka Indigo Girls, had, for all intents and purposes, fallen off the national music radar. Up to that point the group had spent about 10 years making music that made an impression -- a few hits such as "Closer to Fine" and a signature appearance at Lilith Fair, the female-friendly music festival, were just two of the highlights.
Flash forward to 2018, and Indigo Girls aren't on the charts. But they soldier on, and on Saturday night they took the stage at the new Center for Humanities and Arts Theater at the University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College in North Little Rock. The intimate venue, approximately 470 seats plus standing room, was packed, and the adoring crowd and their heroes turned back the clock a couple of decades.
If this was bald nostalgia, well, it felt surprisingly and surpassingly fresh and energetic.
The credit for that falls on Ray and Saliers' songs, the understated and unassuming musicianship of the two and the infectious way Ray's deeper voice threads with Saliers' higher one. The show opened with "Kid Fears," off the group's 1989 self-titled debut (the original features a guest appearance by Michael Stipe of fellow Georgia band R.E.M.). From that point they moved forward by trading off a Ray song with one by Saliers.
Indigo Girls have figured out a nice way to vary the sound (it's just the two of them up there, don't ya know) and that means changing out from acoustic to electric guitar or mandolin, sometimes even in the middle of a song. They also took turns with solo moments.
Did they play "Galileo"? Of course they did. Did the audience sing most of it? Do you really have to ask?
"Share the Moon" didn't appear until the encore, but it was slower and more lovely live than in the recorded version. Another winner was "Go," a propulsive number that includes the line, "Don't assume anything." You could have put that line in a huge banner draped across the stage and it wouldn't have felt out of place -- quite like Indigo Girls in 2018 in North Little Rock.
Metro on 04/02/2018