Show review: Sea Wolf (solo) @ Brighton Music Hall 2.16.14
by Amanda Hoover (Journalism), published March 7th 2014
Alex Brown Church showed up at Brighton Music Hall with nothing but the clothes on his back and an acoustic guitar. Absent his usual rotating group of musicians, Church set out on the road solo this winter, taking advantage of the chance to tell stories alone through song with clarity and precision. Weaving through tales of romance, gypsies and murky coasts, Church took the crowd in Brighton out of the snowy Boston streets and into dreamy, moody worlds.
He opened the show with “Young Bodies,” a song to be featured on his upcoming album funded by fans through a Kickstarter campaign, which Church said will be simpler and more melodic than his earlier work. The night was filled with both old and new songs performed in the stripped down style of his upcoming release. Some high points included “Blue Stockings” and “Priscilla,” both from Old World Romance – a title that encapsulates the affectionate tales of charming yet flawed loves and the melancholy longing heard in Church’s voice throughout his set.
Church wrapped up his set with two fan favorites, the nostalgic “Old Friend” and one of his darker and more popular songs that no Sea Wolf show could conclude without: “You’re A Wolf” from his debut album. Church, who’s taken the name Sea Wolf from Jack London’s 1904 adventure novel, did his name the most justice here. Gypsies, wolves and rivers all came to life as he sang in the intimate setting.
Church didn’t seem uncomfortable standing on stage alone, but he’s certainly no narcissist, either. The show wasn’t about glory or attention, as Church kept his commentary between songs as brief as possible and eventually left the stage with just a quick wave of his hand. It would be a cliché to call Church’s solo performance vulnerable, and it probably wouldn’t be the best word to use anyway – articulate sounds better. Alone on stage, Church surrounded the crowd with his stories and poetry, keeping the music simple in order to make way for the words.