Live Review | Shovels and Rope + Andrew Combs @ The Sinclair


Photos by Boston Concert Photography

[F]riday night was as good of a night as any for music fans here in Boston. Newly announced to the Newport Folk Festival, South Carolina folk rock duo Shovels & Rope in town with friend Andrew Combs warming up the room for them. Shovels & Rope is fresh off a fantastic release late last year, an album in O’ Be Joyful, that has garned major critical acclaim which has helped snowball the band into a headlining tour that landed the duo here in town.

So we all packed into the newly opened Sinclair in Harvard Square, with nothing but intense anticipation for the show. Andrew Combs started the night with a mix of country and folk songs that seriously make you want to tear your heart out. His songwriting and his voice lend itself to broken hearts and cry in your beer kind of tunes, and that’s just what he did. Relenting just a little covering soul tune “Dark End of the Street,” and crowd sing-a-long “Emily.” Playing some of his slower jams may alienate some of the crowd that was looking for a rambunctious set (considering the next act) for the most part, he was well received, well prepared, and for me, a joy to finally get to hear.

When the murder ballad duo Shovels & Ropes finally dawned the stage, the crowd was ready for them to cut them apart with whip-smart lyrics, Hearst’s boisterous and wonderful demeanor, songs we’ve all fallen in love with, and a Waits cover that was awfully surprising.  The two played a near 2 hour set, playing just about everything under their catalog save for a few songs I was surprised they hadn’t played (specifically Trent’s Kitchen-Hallway). Their stage banter, and obvious chemistry (they’re married) was sure to see, and the crowd was delighted, and to be totally honest, exhausted, it was a fantastic night with a band that garners a lot of our recent attention for their spectacular and dynamic live shows, their earnest songwriting, and their ability to woo the crowd with just how goddamn cute the two of them are.