Lisa Fischer and Grand Baton visited Chicago’s Thalia Hall and put on a spellbinding show for their delighted fans.
Whilst Lisa Fischer may not be a household name, it is likely you have heard her phenomenal voice more than once. Although she won a Grammy back in 1991 for her track from her only solo album, she is probably still best known as a ‘backing’ singer for the Rolling Stones. If you went to see them on their latest tour, you’d have seen Fischer strutting her stuff on the runway that projects from the stage whilst belting out “Gimme Shelter.” Although the Stones are her most famous employers, she has also performed with acts as diverse as Chaka Khan, Luther Vandross, and Nine Inch Nails.
The spotlight was turned squarely on Fischer in the 2013 documentary, 20 Feet From Stardom, and the increased exposure has allowed her to embark on tours at progressively larger venues. This path brought Fischer to Thalia Hall in Chicago with her co-conspirators, Grand Baton.
In a world of highly produced music and live shows, it is sometimes easy to forget the sheer joy that can come from watching four truly world class musicians getting together and doing what they do best. The pairing of Lisa Fischer and Grand Baton is an inspired collaboration. At the show on Saturday, they put on a performance that will live long in our memories.
It has to be said that in a set that is made up of covers, huge credit has to be given to both JC Maillard and the guys from Grand Baton who worked with Lisa to beautifully re-magine each song. It is safe to say that you will never have heard Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” or the Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” performed like this.
From the first note played, it was impossible to take your eyes or ears off this performance. Musical director Maillard’s work on whatever instrument that was in his hands was phenomenal, whether it was acoustic guitar, electric guitar, sazbass or keyboard. Aidan Carroll on bass and Thierry Arpino on drums also put in fantastic performances and had their chance to shine with solo spots during the set.
Of course, Lisa Fischer and her voice were front and center all night. Her presence was almost ethereal as she took to the stage, dressed in a white gown that seemed to glow under the stage lights (although her personality alone would have been enough to light up the room).
Fischer is a woman who is a master of her craft, regularly working between two mics (one of which was fixed on a stand at the front of the stage and set with a little more reverb). Her voice regularly went from whisper to scream, from lower register to some of the highest cleanest notes you will ever hear. On more than one occasion, the sheer emotion she poured into her performance brought her to tears on stage.
It was a masterful performance and one which leaves you scratching your head and wondering how it can have taken so long for Lisa Fischer to be out front rather than being cast in the perpetual back-up role.
It is hard to describe Saturday’s performance other than to say this was live music in its purest form. Fantastic arrangements of great songs performed with real passion by phenomenal musicians. Regardless of the genre of music you prefer, if you are a fan of live music, this is a show that you absolutely must see.