Alison Krauss and Union Station, Jeremy Lister
North Charleston Performing Arts Center
After almost any concert at the PAC, it's not uncommon to read some aging boomer's disgruntled letter to the Post and Courier, complaining about fans that don't know when to shut up and sit down at a concert. If anyone writes such a letter after Alison Krauss' show in North Charleston, they're just plain grumpy.
When Krauss emerged for an encore medley that included her singing a solo, a capella verse of "Down to the River to Pray," no one in the 2,200-plus capacity audience even dared to breathe too loud. In between songs, Krauss made jokes and introduced featured guitarist Dan Tyminski and the band, allowing the audience the chance to hoot and holler. But the group's sheer command of the musicianship on stage demanded silence.
Opener Jeremy Lister set the mood with a quick set of crooning ballads. His gentle, high register worked with his control of microphone distance to create an intimate, coffeeshop vibe in the expansive theater, but the best moment of his set came when he brought out Jerry Douglas (dobro) and Ron Block (guitar) from Union Station, reminding everyone of what was soon to come. Lister finished up with the title track of his new recording, "The Bed You Made," maintaining the pin-drop presence. As he left the stage, he readied the audience for "one of the best shows you'll ever see in your life."
Over the course of a two-hour performance, Krauss and company hit all the necessities, including "Baby, Now That I've Found You" (featuring drummer Josh Hunt playing with his bare hands) and quick versions of "Any Old Time," "Oh Atlanta," and "When You Say Nothing at All."
Mid-show, Douglas took center stage for an instrumental that began with an original he initially dubbed, "I Love Iraqi Bluegrass," but soon renamed "Route Irish." Segueing into teases of a song he's played with Béla Fleck, Douglas demonsrated that he is indeed to the dobro what Michael Jordan is to basketball. Dare I say it, he's the Victor Wooten of the dobro — a virtuoso who created a new style for his instrument that's yet to be successfully mimicked, let alone surpassed.
Lister returned during Krauss' set to duet on "Sinking Stone," his song that she recorded on her new disc, Paper Airplane.
Whether it was Tyminski's and Krauss' commanding voices, Douglas' solos and riffs, or Block's quick runs up his banjo neck, Sunday's show both thrilled and relaxed.