Past Reviews

Northeast Performer Review of Show

Performance Review

September 04, 2007



Club Passim - July 7, 2007

The singer/songwriter genre denotes a medium where the audience is confronted with the song itself  stripped to its most naked, yet quintessential, form. It's kind of funny that this arbitrarily labeled genre is considered a genre at all, but there's no denying that the model exists: acoustic guitar/piano plus vocals. The folk singer/songwriter seems to make more sense, though, since folk is about storytelling. Ellis Paul has long been a staple of the Northeast folk scene, and his performance at Club Passim on July 7 was a perfect example of how to do it right  songwriting, performance, and connecting with the audience. Legendary Club Passim was the perfect venue for the show, with its intimate charm and loyal audience.

By the time Ellis Paul took the stage, the crowd was visibly excited. After a contemplative piano opener, Paul launched into crowd favorites like "Sweet Mistakes," "3,000 Miles," "Eighteen," and more. One particular highlight was a version of "Black Top Train," which he performed unplugged, telling the audience "it's just too loud." Paul's powerful voice maintained an impressive volume in the room, as did his deep, soulful guitar playing.

It was obvious that every last audience member of the sold out Passim crowd knew his songs inside and out. During the popular "3,000 Miles," the audience sing-along nearly overpowered the PA system. Towards the end of the set, Paul treated the audience to what he called a "folk singer lap dance"  which was basically an unplugged performance from within the crowd.

Ellis Paul's career has spanned nearly 20 years, and his experience as a songwriter and performer definitely show. He's one of those few artists who can connect to the audience, making everyone in the crowd feel like he or she is actually being performed to. The sound was spot-on and the set list included some new songs from a forthcoming children's album  some of which showcased subtle political lyrics. However, even Paul's songs about dragonflies still managed to sound beautiful and utterly heartbreaking.



by Adam Arrigo, Northeast Performer

updated: 7 years ago