Madison’s Majestic Theatre was an aptly-named venue for lucky music lovers at Delta Rae’s show there Saturday night. The band’s performance of “Bottom of the River” was one of those magical — you could even say majestic — moments that only live music can deliver. The pulsing rhythm, the eerily lovely vocals of Brittany Holljes. Yes, it was one of those moments where everything else fades away. Where time disappears and the music takes over. That song was the perfect magic trick, the sleight of hand to make you feel you weren’t just listening to the music. You were the music.
Delta Rae’s Eric Holljes told those in the crowd Saturday night that their enthusiasm was reenergizing the band, one month into a tour to support their sophomore album. It was clear they, too, were doing some energizing. The crowd was electric.
Brittany Holljes was a sprite of a temptress lighting about the stage unleashing her signature vocals, soothing lullaby and haunting hymn all wrapped in one. Fellow vocalist Liz Hopkins showed off strong soaring notes — powerful, beautiful. Their harmonies were the stuff of legend. Add to that Eric Holljes’ keyboard, Ian Holljes’ guitar, Mike McKee’s drums and Grant Emerson’s bass – along with touring violinist Claire Wellin – for a musical blend truly all their own. The highlights of the show Saturday night were the ballad “If I Loved You,” “Chasing Twisters” — which calls to mind wide-open Western skies and riding horses on open roads — and new tunes “Scared” and “Cold Day in Heaven” off their recently-released new record.
With a slow and steady build of excitement around their debut album “Carry The Fire” – and even a studio collaboration with rock royalty, Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham – the bluesy rockers from North Carolina have been gaining momentum and accumulating fans with each live performance they deliver. After Saturday’s performance, it’s easy to see why.
While their second full-length album “After It All,” released earlier this month, contains fewer of the powerhouse, anthemic showstoppers as “Carry The Fire,” it’s a solid rock album — in a day and age where those are on the brink of extinction. And in Madison, on a cool spring night in April, Delta Rae proved they remain a force to be reckoned with when they take the stage.
Greg Holden, cowriter of Phillip Phillips’ radio hit “Home,” opened up the night. He got his set going with the crowd-pleaser “Save Yourself,” before a string of nice but slowish tunes and ending on a high note with his single “Hold on Tight.”
But the real magic, the star dust, flew from the mouths and the instruments of Delta Rae, one song after another. After a setlist that mixed tunes from both albums, they closed the show with a cover of Sia’s “Chandelier” and a rousing rendition of “Dance in the Graveyards” – infused with a taste of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” thrown in the middle.
Delta Rae’s sound is haunting, hopeful, a glorious collision of country, blues, rock and soul. They’re rhythmic, swaying, and with the kind of from-the-gut vocals that infuse every particle of air in a room. They’re tight, they’re talented, they’re alive in the biggest sense of the word when they’re on a stage. If you get the chance to see them perform, do it. And get lost in the magic of their unique sound.