Indigo Girls, Islington Assembly Hall, London, 29th July 2017

Amy Ray and Emily Saliers took to the stage to rapturous applause and resounding cheers.  It’s been eight years since they last toured the UK and it was clear that the Indigo Girls had been missed as they launched into Fighting For The Love Of Our Lives, an upbeat number with lovely harmonies. For the next song, Ozilline, they were joined onstage by Lucy Wainwright Roche, who contributed on and off throughout the evening. This was followed by one of the many highlights of the evening and a clear crowd favourite, Fill It Up Again. A mesmerising song with entwined vocals that exuded feel good vibes.

The Indigo Girls released their first album in 1987 and thirty years later their enthusiasm for performing has clearly not diminished. The band were very tight and featured Clare Kenny (bass), Carol Isaacs (accordion and keys) and Lyris Hung putting on a stunning performance all evening on violin. Heartache For Everyone was swiftly followed by Power Of Two, a song that for many bands would be good enough for an encore showing the strength and depth of the Indigo Girls back catalogue that this could be played so early in the set. This did not prevent a huge sing-a-long and a very cathartic moment when it felt like a hall full of strangers was united. Spread The Pain Around was followed by the country tinged Get Out The Map and Faye Tucker, a song that sounded like it could have been written by Pete Seeger. Then came Ghost, performed with just Ray and Saliers on acoustic guitars and Hung on violin, which was another spellbinder listened to reverentially by the audience and given huge applause.

Saliers told us how she had once worked in a grocery store before playing Cold Beer And Remote Control, a song which was drawn from this experience. After this came Go, the rockiest number of the evening and then Saliers had the stage to herself to perform Train Inside, a song from her forthcoming solo album. We were then treated to Making Promises, a song that’s hard not to dance to with its infectious rhythm and on Virginia Woolf, Share The Moon and The Wood Song the audience were ecstatic and appreciating every moment. Ray then told the story of the Angola Three who spent over 25 years in solitary confinement, framed for the murder of a guard after speaking out about the conditions in Louisiana State Prison, and how one of them wrote to her and asked her to tell their tale.  Like Dylan’s Hurricane and Young’s Southern Man, The Rise Of The Black Messiah is a song of injustice and racism and is haunting and powerful in its telling. Both musically and lyrically this was a standout track of the night.

The final song of the set was Galileo, a song that is very representative of the Indigo Girls sound and which left everyone cheering for more.  They were not to be disappointed as an encore followed which started with War Rugs before the band introduced special guest Suzzy Roche to perform The Roche’s Hammond Song which was well received.  The final song of the night was Closer To Fine, greeted with huge enthusiasm and sung along with great gusto by the packed house.

As the audience left the venue, there was a spirit of happiness and warmth and it felt as if we had somehow been cleansed and uplifted by the purity and inclusiveness of the music.  It may have been 8 years since the Indigo Girls played the UK but clearly there is a warm welcome waiting for them anytime they wish to come back.

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Jonathan Aird

Sunday night followed a very similar pattern, and every song by the Indigo Girls was received with a similar level of ecstatic applause. Certainly a lot of love in the room for them!

Lucy Wainwright Roche, who was part of the band, also acted as the opening act, and has been blessed with the voice of her mother and her father’s deadpan sense of humour. Mother Suzzy Roche joined her onstage duetting on a lovely “For No One”. Lucy’s cover of “Hungry Heart” was a blast.