She & Him
Better than...Watching Failure To Launch on basic cable
When Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward first joined forces for what was supposed to a fun side project in 2007, they couldn't really have thought they'd eventually be playing the Hollywood Bowl for a second time. Ward and Deschanel were first introduced by director Martin Hynes on the set of The Go-Getter, and She & Him has since evolved from a fun creative outlet into a legitimate musical pairing. Unlike their 2010 appearance at the Bowl, last night She & Him was headlining.
The duo is nearly a quarter of the way through their North American Summer Tour and last night was their third show in that many nights. It would be understandable if She & Him were a bit fatigued, but playing in front a hometown crowd last night, they were in great spirits. The duo's blissful harmonies carried well in the starry, slightly chilly evening.
A lot has happened since the release of their sophomore record, Volume Two, back in 2010. In that time, Deschanel has taken a star turn on the small screen with her role as Jessica Day on The New Girl and has been nominated for a Golden Globe and Emmy. But this doesn't mean she's neglected her songwriting career. Deschanel penned the theme song for her hit show and was subsequently nominated for a Grammy for Best Original Song. As for Ward, he's carried on with his solo career as an indie troubadour.
Emmy Lou Harris and Rodney Crowell played before She & Him. The rich harmonies and sultry soundings of these country vets helped pave the way for a groups like the evening's headliners. Highlights included a cover of "Love Hurts" and an extended jam at the end of "Ain't Living Long."
Last night the duo raced through a 70-minute set that mixed originals from their catalog with a few of well-timed covers. Having released the aptly titled Volume 3 (their fourth album overall) in April , Deschanel and Ward are now able to legitimately say that She & Him is one of the most important items on their to-do lists. Although this tour is their first since 2010, they didn't show any rust.
Looking like a princess at a birthday party, Deschanel's voice was booming, carrying deep in the night. Add to that to her multi-instrumental talents on the piano and mandolin and Deschanel has more going for her than a lot of other actresses who think they can sang. She clearly enjoys being on-stage almost as much as in front of a camera. Ward isn't too shabby himself. His guitar licks and grooves set the musical pace, and while his vocal participation was minimal, his guitar (and piano playing) did the talking.
With the help of a nine-piece backing band, She & Him moved seamlessly back and forth between indie pop and indie folk. They were at their best with the faster, poppier material, which had the subdued crowd moving to the music. Deschanel shined during slower material too, especially on a cover of Mel Carter's"Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me."
Whether they were trading harmonies on the upbeat "Baby" or covering of NRBQ's "Ridin' In My Car," Deschanel and Ward's displayed an easy, settled groove, especially when the tempo was upbeat. By the time they finished with a cover of Nina Simone's "I Put Spell On You," the duo had hit their stride. It was too bad that the night ended just as it really started to cook.
Random Notebook Dump: You know it's Hollywood Bowl season when you see dozens of wine soaked shirts walking up Highland.
See setlist below
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