Will Dailey gets a ‘rise’ out of Harpers Ferry

A review of Will Dailey at Harpers Ferry on May 16

, Staff

Will Dailey brought his brand of acoustic guitar-driven folk/rock to Harpers Ferry Friday, May 9, but the return to his old stomping ground proved to be a mixed bag. Dailey battled a somewhat wooden crowd the entire night, but eventually won them over as the show went on.

A Boston native, Dailey has experienced a fair amount of success after the release of 2006’s Back Flipping Forward, winning that year’s Boston Music Award for Best Male Singer-songwriter. His single "Rise" has appeared on a number of TV shows, including The Hills, Gossip Girl and CSI: Miami.

Dailey kicked off the night’s set with album standout, "Bi-polar Baby". This was a questionable start to the show, as it’s one of his better, more upbeat songs and may have been better served toward the middle or end of the set.

Despite a lackluster reaction from the crowd (maybe it was the Sox game), Dailey was unfazed. During a few different songs, he ditched his acoustic guitar in favor of a harmonica in the spirit of Mick Jagger. Dailey strutted about like the Stones frontman, hands on hips, making it clear he was as comfortable without a guitar as he is with one.

The song that awoke the lethargic crowd was "Hollywood Hills". Accompanied by a full brass section – trombone, trumpet and saxophone, the crowd sang along with Dailey and seemed to finally start getting into the show.

One of the more interesting tracks of the night was the cover of Feist’s "Let it Die". Dailey introduced it, saying, "This is a new one for us, but may not be new to your ears." The cover was very well-done – a slightly more up-tempo take on the original, and Dailey’s vocals actually stacked up well to Feist’s.

It’s no surprise that Dailey chose his hit "Rise" as the centerpiece for the night’s performance, as the song had many a couple slow dancing. Probably unfairly, the crowd thinned out after this song and many missed some of the higher points of the show – such as the aforementioned Feist cover and a great performance of "Grand Opening".

Dailey played a handful of new tracks ("So Many Wrong Ways" and "Tomorrow Still Comes") and said he was planning on returning to the studio soon. He then ended the evening with "Undone". By this point the entire crowd had awakened, and were dancing and singing along with Dailey throughout. It would have been difficult to top this moment, even if the band had chosen to do an encore.

The show lasted just over an hour, ending at about 1 a.m. At the end, Dailey hinted at his next Boston romp – at Great Scott in July, and invited the crowd to share a drink with him before heading out.

Dailey is a natural frontman and performer, but a humble one. He thanked the crowd a number of times, no doubt filled with many local friends of his. I think it is safe to say no matter how much success Dailey accrues, he won’t be forgetting his Boston roots anytime soon.

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