Last night in Port Washington, the Landmark Theatre, with it’s new topflight sound system, headlined Suzzy and Maggie Roche along with Julie Gold as their special guest. Julie Gold best known for her hit song From a Distance made famous first by Nanci Griffith and then Bette Midler, is a song that stands up there in the pantheon of great songs. Her performance of this song displayed all of her talents: a crisp clear voice along with her stylish piano and, of course, those lyrics. Julie Gold at the Grammy’s said that it was a song that she had been writing her whole life and this audience loved it. It deservedly catapulted her into fame, a song that has been read into the Congressional record, played on the space station when the Americans and Russians linked up for the first time. Sadly, everything else that Julie Gold played last night paled by comparison. Her lyrics, though well-meaning and filled with love and compassion, seemed trite and uninteresting, almost like Broadway show tunes. I’m happy for Julie Gold’s one enormous hit and so is she.
The Roche sisters were nothing less than wonderful. The quirkiness that has characterized their style, their incredible harmonizing, their unique songs were alive and well in living color. What amazed me was that the audience, now in its dotage, and the Roche Sisters, not afraid to show that they too have aged, still connect through their music as if somehow from the opening note, Maggie and Suzzy were able to transcend age and tap into something greater than our lost youth, but instead a well-spring of beauty and truth that is ageless. It was remarkable how timeless their voices are without props and reverb, but two acoustic guitars, a Steinway concert grand piano and a talent for harmonizing that is unparalleled in the music world. They made us laugh, of course, they made us cry, and why not, but there were so many wow moments throughout the night as if there were six people on stage and not two. They played some of their old standards, like Hammond Song and The Train. They sang from their Zero Church album that they created at Harvard, giving a musical voices to people’s heartfelt personal prayers. They performed Jesus Shaves a blasphemously funny, but honest song about a modern day Jesus looking for work and love. They sang songs from other artists, including Dylan’s Clothes Line Saga which they elevate to pure theatrics. They ended the night with a rousing rendition of the coasters Yakety Yak. For those unfortunate not to know the Roches, there’s still time. They are nothing less than wonderful.