by Matthew Harrison
The Head and the Heart brought all the warmth of their indie folk music to the stage of Aganis Arena on Saturday, October 12th, filling Boston University’s hockey home turf with music as they played both old favorites and songs off their newest studio album, “Living Mirage.” The versatility of each of the band’s members was put on display during the hour of music, with Charity Rose Thielen sawing the violin in addition to singing and rocking a tambourine, Jonathan Russell belting and strumming away on an electric guitar, and Matt Gervais taking a break to pound away at the keys. The heartbeat of the group came from the rhythm section of Chris Zache on bass, Kenny Hensley on piano, and Tyler Williams on drums. These guys were the glue holding the ensemble together and giving that driving energy that the Head and the Heart’s music is known for.
Their performance over-delivered on the recorded versions of the songs—every moment was heightened and taken to the next level. “Lost in my Mind,” typically a somewhat sad and “low-key” song, had the audience singing and dancing along. The feeling emanating from the vocalists scooped up each listener and swept us away. The lonely kick drum and bass for the intro of “Honeybee” were accompanied by what seemed like every audience member clapping along with the band. Throughout this song, the two voices of Thielen and Russell twisted and danced in beautiful harmony, supporting each other but giving each other space at the same time.
Midway through the show, Thielen paused to address the audience. She dedicated the show to the family of a fan who had recently lost his battle against an illness. During this emotional moment, Thielen spoke honestly about the connection she feels with her listeners and the interconnectedness of all people. In that moment, Thielen embodied the “heart” of the Head and the Heart, and the audience had no choice but to fall in love with the band and their performance.
The show ended around 10:00, and after a minute or two of nonstop applause in the dark arena, the band took the stage once more to play their encore, “Rivers and Roads.” Those familiar with the song might think it an odd choice for an encore—the lyrics are a sad meditation on losing parts of life to time, and the song ends on a low note. Who would want to end a concert in the same way? As it turns out, the Head and the Heart knew just how to spin it. The soft piano notes of that mark the song’s intro soon gave way to a fanfare of big bass drum hits, pounded chords, and impressive vocal acrobatics. The middle of the song had a drive and sense of vastness unlike anything in the recording. The two singers traded back and forth, building the song to a final majestic crescendo.
When it finally ended, the last note ringing out above the pit and around the stadium, there was no doubt about the band’s choice for a final encore. True to the impression they made throughout the show, the Head and the Heart are masters of emotion, and the music they brought to life on the stage left a lasting memory in the head of every audience member.