The small theater’s main floor filled up rather quickly in the minutes preceding the impending performance by Rock Island, Illinois’ Lissie. Right at 8 PM, the stage lights cut out and Elisabeth Maurus’ nickname LISSIE popped up, in white capital letters on an enormous LED screen. The young crowd of fans cheered, whistled and clapped as Lissie and her band made their way down the private staircase and on to the stage. Longhaired and bearded lead guitarist Eric Sullivan, grabbed and plugged in his road-worn Les Paul. Jesse Siebenberg climbed up and perched behind his drum kit that was set up beside his keyboard and pedal steel guitar stand. Bassist Lewis Keller slinked up on to his riser with his knackered Fender bass. Lissie, dressed in black – was handed her trusty, sunburst Fender Telecaster and she turned to the audience and greeted them with a sincere, “Hello Boston! It’s great to be back. How ya doin’?”
The band kicked right into their first songs of the set. “Bully” featured some tasty fretwork by guitarist Eric Sullivan and the multifaceted “Record Collector” which was a bit mellow for the second song of the set. Lissie was clearly excited as she grooved and danced around behind her microphone. Her voice during the verses of the songs sounded great but she was seemed to struggle a bit during the choruses. One would have to chalk it up to just needing to get warmed up on a cold night in Boston. Lissie quickly adjusted her in-ear monitors before performing the mild-mannered and poppy “Sleepwalking”.
Lissie grabbed a paper cup, took a swig of its contents and a male member in the audience yelled, “Is that tea?” – probably hoping that is was something a bit more powerful. Lissie quickly responded with, “Yes. But I’ve got tequila for later. Gotta pace myself.” The crowd roared. She smiled, took another sip and said, “We’ve got a new album out. And we’re going to play some songs from it. Thank you!” “Love In The City” and a great rendition of the seething “The Habit” followed. Sullivan managed to insert some bleeding guitar fills to add a little extra kick. Afterwards, the band began jamming over a funky bass line provided by Lewis Keller. Though short and sweet, the crowd enjoyed it before Lissie and Co. cued up “When I’m Alone.” Blinding white lights were synced to the hypnotic drumbeat of “Alone” providing a more dramatic visual. Jesse Siebenberg laid down a heavy, droning synth line as an introduction to the endearing “They All Want You”.
Taking a break from the music, Lissie engaged her audience once again, “You don’t have to go to work tomorrow because it was Friday night. Do ya? Well, this next song is about not feeling appreciated. It’s about stickin’ it to the man. It’s called “I Don’t Want To Go To Work.” This take was very close to the album version. The vocals were solid as was the music. The mid-song climax gave Lissie and her audience a chance to scream, shout and jump up around in a frenzy – just like it was the last day of school.
Keeping the crowd engaged, Lissie told them, “Sing this with me.” “Little Lovin’” gave her fans a great opportunity to sing along, especially during the mid-song jam and the multiple rounds of “Whoa, whoa, whoa”. Lissie loved it and blessed them with, “Nice work. Thank you.” before moving on with “Everywhere I Go”. Lissie quipped, “I’m about to get sassy.” The audience erupted with cheers as the band kicked into the thunderous and fiery hit single “Shameless”.
Lissie took the opportunity to slow things down a little bit before introducing the next song. “Are you having fun yet? Yes? Us too. I wrote this song about five years ago and I just rediscovered it. It’s called “Shroud”. Lissie’s voice was certainly in rare form at this point and she showed no signs of letting up. The band wrapped up the set with “Further Away (Romance Police)” and “In Sleep” before waving good-bye and saying, “Thank you so much! Peace!”
A loud male voice started the traditional encore chant, “LISSIE, LISSIE, LISSIE…” – which seemed to last a solid few minutes. Lissie and her band returned to the stage with wide grins and waves for all to see. Lissie stepped up to the mic without her trusty Tele and said, “Well thank you very much. Before we get going here, we’ve been doing some cool new covers and wanted you to vote on what we might play. Do you want to hear “Pursuit of Happiness” or “Hold On We’re Going Home” by Drake?”
The audience seemed quite excited over both, but Drake’s song seemed to win out. With urgency, Lissie mentioned, “Okay. Before we do that – you should know that I’m from Rock Island, Illinois and I grew up along the Mississippi River” before launching into “Oh Mississippi”.
Next up was the winning vote’s song. Lissie played the quiet, sweet intro by herself on guitar before the rest of the band joined in. After singing a couple of false starts, Lissie found the right key, jelled with the band and did in fact play Drake’s “Hold On We’re Going Home”. Lissie praised her audience once more, “Thank you all for coming out. Thank you for your support. You keep us on the road.” She gave them all one more collective hug before finally wrapping up the night with “Pursuit Of Happiness”. The introduction to “Pursuit”, raised the energy level in the hall with a heavy, anthemic synth-lead that would turn any Black Sabbath fan’s head with its sheer gravity. Lissie and her band ended the encore’s set with a bang that in turn, made her fans very happy.
Love In The City*
When I’m Alone**
They All Want You*
Don’t Wanna Go To Work*
Everywhere I Go**
Further Away (Romance Police)*
Hold On We’re Going Home (Drake)
Pursuit Of Happiness***
*Back To Forever (2013)
**Catching A Tiger (2010)
***Covered Up With Flowers EP (2011)