Alison Krauss & Union Station shine in Boston

A review of Alison Krauss & Union Station at the Citi Wang Theatre on July 28, 2011

, Contributing Writer

Alison Krauss & Union Station may be known as a bluegrass band, but the band covered enough longing, heartbreak and happiness during their set at the Wang Theatre last Thursday to appeal to anyone.

The band, who have now been together for 21 years, are touring in support of the brand album Paper Airplane. The show began with the album’s track, the first of many new songs played during the near two-hour set. Despite playing over half of Paper Airplane, Krauss & Union Station still had plenty of time to showcase a variety of their hits, including Krauss’ solo work and songs off movie soundtracks.

During the set, Krauss joked that people complained about their extensive collection of sad songs. While sorrow dominated the night, especially on tracks like “Sinking Stone” and “Every Time You Say Goodbye”, Krauss has enough versatility to sell anything, whether it’s on the sensual “Let Me Touch You A While”, the rousing “Miles To Go” or the poignant “Dimming of the Day”.

Krauss may not have the most powerful or bombastic voice, but its angelic tone carried throughout the old theatre. She shined on her solo hits “Stay” and “Ghost In This House”. While her between song banter appeared dippy at times, she appeared enduring while teasing and singing the praises of the men in her band.

The praise for Union Station was well deserved, as they shined throughout the show. Guitarist Dan Tyminski, known as George Clooney’s singing voice in O Brother Where Art Thou, shined on “Dust Bowl Children”, “Wild Bill Jones” and his signature song “Man of Constant Sorrow”. Dobro guitar virtuoso Jerry Douglas, the most prominent touring member of Union Station, played an unnamed instrumental solo for ten minutes, proving why he’s one of music’s most renowned musicians and producers.

The instrumental number “Cluck Old Hen” allowed all members to shine on their respected instruments, especially Ron Block on the banjo and Krauss on the fiddle. “The Boy Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn” was the most bluegrass number of the night and “Rain Please Go Away” prompted the audience to clap along to the song off 2004’s Lonely Runs Both Ways.

After closing the set with the sweet “Oh Atlanta”, Krauss & Union Station returned for a stripped down, four song encore, which demonstrated how cohesive the band works together. Accompanied by just Tyminski and Block on acoustic guitars, Krauss’s voice soared during her biggest country hit, “When You Say Nothing At All”. She sang a capella on parts of “Down to the River to Pray” before the rest of the band joined for “Your Long Journey” and “This is a Reason”. While modest, the encore showed how the band doesn’t need much to perform simple, good music.

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