Taken By Trees @ Roxy Theater, February 28, 2008
I was one of probably many that was disappointed when The Concretes cancelled their Troubadour show back in May of 2006. This occurred right before the band had officially announced the departure of lead singer, Victoria Bergsman. So imagine my surprise last year when Victoria made a cameo appearance at the Peter Bjorn & John show at the Roxy to sing her part of “Young Folks.” A surprise, since the majority of the PB&J dates the band used vocal services of a special guest or, as often was the case, Peter sang both parts. Tonight Victoria made her return to the now familiar Sunset Strip venue for the first West Coast performance by Taken By Trees.
It is not unusual to find when a lead singer decides to go it alone that the solo work is not that different than the material of his or her former band. This, however, is not the case with Taken By Trees debut Open Field. Yes, it is still her unique, melancholic (almost excruciatingly vulnerable) voice, but in this case her vocals as well as the music are stripped to the bare essentials, uncorrupted by electronic effects. Some of The Concrete’s second album In Colour hinted at this, but not quite to this extent. The end result is that the uniqueness of Victoria’s voice is accentuated in the process.
The show started with the house lights dimming and a video projected on one of the far walls of the venue. The video of mostly–you guessed it–trees was accompanied by the instrumental title track “Open Field.” The track is not the opener of the album but it was great as the intro to the show. The lights never fully undimmed for the set as Victoria and her band took the stage and performed the remaining material from the album. The stage was dark and the music was expectedly quiet. It was so quiet that at one point Victoria stopped during song and asked the attendant and a customer at the merch booth to be quiet.
The band ended the set with its recent release, a cover of Guns n’ Roses’ “Sweet Child o’ Mine.” Besides being obviously appropriate for the show’s locale, the song avoids being just a token cover through its brilliant arrangement and, again, by Victoria’s unique voice. Slash’s famous guitar line is played cleanly on piano and, just like “Open Field,” is sparse musically. Afterward the break Victoria’s best friend came out on stage to thank the crowd on behalf of Bergsman. My best guess is that she feared being too emotional had she spoken to the audience directly. Perhaps that is why she finds comfort in being taken by trees.
JUST OVER ONE YEAR AGO