The Hotel Café tour rolls into Boston

A review of The Hotel Café Tour at the Paradise Rock Club on March 25, 2008

, Staff Writer

Featuring some of the nation’s most prominent singer-songwriters, the Hotel Café tour charmed the sold out crowd at the Paradise Rock Club on Tuesday night.

Inspiried by the venue which bears its name, Hotel Café, the tour has been billed as ‘one bus, one band, one crew, and a bunch of friends’ touring together, having fun and doing what they love.& Once a small coffee shop in Los Angeles, the Hotel Café has grown into one of the premier venues for singer/songwriters in the United States. With the ever increasing competition in the music business, the Hotel Café is place where both well established and up and coming artists can be seen sharing the stage in a supportive, encouraging environment.

With its unique and unpretentious format, (no single headliner) fans in Boston were treated to alternating ‘mini-sets’ and collaborations by five of this years most relevant singer-songwriters – Meiko, Cary Brothers, Ingrid Michaelson, Priscilla Ahn and Joshua Radin. While many of the performers many not yet be household names, if you have seen Grey’s Anatomy or a Zack Braff movie, you have absolutely heard their music.&

Opening the show, Meiko delighted the audience with her down to earth, self deprecating attitude and sweet voice by playing several songs off her self titled debut album, including the Grey’s Anatomy featured, “Reasons to Love You”.

In contrast to Meiko’s liveliness, Cary Brothers, the tour’s founder, seemed to be going through the motions while singing songs from his album Who You Are. While he may not have had the same energy level as his fellow performers, one cannot deny that he sounded amazing and that his songs are probably the most lyrically complex, as demonstrated by the anthemic “Glass Parade”.

Compliments of her song “The Way I Am” being featured in an Old Navy commercial, the red-hot Ingrid Michaelson did not disappoint.& Her carefree attitude and cheeky senses of humor came through while singing, “Overboard” – which was actually written about a friend who fell for a lobsterman in Maine – from her album Girls and Boy.& She also showed her diversity as an artist, performing a cover of the Radiohead’s “Creep”.

Josh Radin, who, in a show of solidarity, took the stage wearing an Ingrid Michaelson t-shirt, had the hundreds of ladies in the audience swooning with his ‘sensitive guy’ lyrics.& With his flirty personality, quirky good looks and the intimate setting of the Paradise Rock Club, you literally felt like he was singing directly to you (or is that about you) during the song “Today” off his 2006 album We Were Here.

Rounding out the performers, Priscilla Ahn was a bit disappointing.& Ahn has a tremendous amount of talent, playing upwards of five instruments, but her point of view seemed confused as she alternated between the poetic “Dream” and the utterly ridiculous “Astronauts”, though Ahn’s performance of her new song “Boobs”, complete with a kazoo, was one of the highlights of the evening.

While the format was unusual, it worked. It was obvious that the performers loved what they were doing and the collaborations were beautifully executed, and they genuinely seemed to be having a good time. But, what can be better than touring the world with your friends and a kazoo!

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