Live at The Tralf - Buffalo, NY
Ray Lorigo | Daniel Haskin
Leah Pinnavaia| Ann Janish-Scheider | Pat O'Connell
image © The Dreaming 2004
The Strawbs' Witchwood Records (UK) distributes The Dreaming's albums in England and the rest of Europe. This relationship bode well for the two bands to play on the same bill at The Tralf in downtown Buffalo. It was the third time that the two bands have played together. The Tralf has enjoyed a long history in Buffalo and moved into the city center after a previous stint some distance away. The club's recent facelift has made it the premier moderate size venue in western New York although experts believe that further work to optimize the acoustics remains.
Although the venue can most likely support an audience of up to 500 or so, the floor was somewhat sparsely populated by tables surrounded with chairs for this gig. Drinks and bar food are available at reasonable prices and the wait staff are unobtrusive during performances. The Tralf's "club" members entered the venue first at doors, but those that entered afterwards were also seated well. About 100 turned up for the show on this cold November evening.
The Dreaming were configured appropriately for The Strawbs three-piece acoustic format. Fronted by lead singer Ann Janish-Scheider and second singer Leah Pinnavaia (vocals, Moog and clarinet), the lineup was completed by Ray Lorigo (acoustic guitar), Daniel Haskin (twelve-string and acoustic guitar), and Pat O'Connell (percussion and Moog). Their set included three new tracks as well as material from their three recordings Shadow Days (review), Picture Book Rain and Silent (reviews). We met the band both before and after their performance.
Although The Dreaming had essentially no soundcheck, their performance was superb. We learned that their on-stage monitors were mixed poorly but this was certainly well hidden from the audience as the band progressed through their set. Daniel told us that they sounded far more electric on-stage than they had intended, but this sound never came through to the house. Ann's on-stage persona was very mature and unanimated with her vocal delivery more dry than on the band's albums. She still exuded the power and accuracy we have enjoyed since early 2000.
Leah has a more accessible and evocative persona and an on-stage vibe which contrasts Ann's. Their collaboration is therefore even more effective in the live setting. Ray and Daniel really got into their guitar playing and this was especially evident in the acoustic format where they deliver the melodic instrumentals that support the vocal work. Pat is highly animated, especially working across his broad range of percussion instruments, an unsung hero of the evening.
The band opened with the new track "Summerland," a medium tempo and glorious acoustic track fronted by Ann's vocals with Leah singing backing vocals and playing Moog. For "Demons," the opening track from the band's most recent album, the two vocalists took positions beside each other to improve their ability to harmonize. The instrumentals on the track were rearranged for the acoustic setting with Pat's percussion playing a major part in the delivery of the piece.
Leah introduced and then took the lead in the new song she co-wrote with Daniel entitled "Too Many Things" and demonstrated her clarity, extensive range and power while moving rhythmically to the music. Together with Ann, the vocalists sang the stunning "Perfect Skin" from their latest album harmonizing atop the band's acoustic instrumentals. Leah returned to the lead on another brand new track co-written with Daniel entitled "The Dream King" and continued to delight the audience with her warmth and superb vocal delivery.
The set continued with the new vocal and instrumental arrangements of "No Man" and "Asymmetrical" from the band's second album Picturebook Rain. Instrumentals had been tweaked for acoustic guitar and the addition Leah's backing vocals provided texture to both tracks while Pat took over the Moog in "Asymmetrical" to add a further wash to the sound. The band concluded their set with "For Real" from their first album. Instrumentals worked well with the acoustic guitar lineup and the vocal delivery was enhanced with the two singers' harmonies. It was a shame to see the band leave the stage after this number without returning for an encore.
The Dreaming played a superb support set for The [Acoustic] Strawbs, who were also tremendous--exceeding all expectations--on the night. The Strawbs many years of experience drew the entire audience into their performance including an hour and a half main set and three encores. The Dreaming are consummate professionals that capture their audience and build intensity during their live performance. Ann and Leah work really well together and complement each others' styles on stage. We can't wait to return to the Buffalo vicinity to see them play a full set with all their gear.
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