Always precious to a fault during her days leading 10,000 Maniacs, Natalie Merchant still needs an editor.
The pop craft that Merchant honed in the Maniacs is still in abundance, but self-indulgence appears to have set in big-time. A little more focus, and less prancing about, seems in order.
Her solo show clicked marvelously for the first hour, but things spun out of control. #Merchant was practically relentless with her trademark twirling and bopping around, and employed all kinds of irrelevant hand gestures. Merchant clearly worked overtime to get these songs across.
Kicking off with the wistful “San Andreas Fault” and breezily clever “Wonder, ” the band, centered on guitarist Jennifer Turner, was tactful and tasteful. A radical reworking of the Maniacs’ ironic examination of the “joys” of childbirth , “Eat for Two,” into a near-psychedelic rocker was a pleasant surprise, as was a gutsy if somewhat overblown version of current single “Carnival.”
In the latter half, however, a ridiculous, samba-fied “These Are Days” stretched on endlessly, working in drum solos, tired David Gilmour cliches from Turner and an extended spinning routine from Merchant.
After the faux-reggae bop of “Jealousy,” it was time for an interminable excursion into the dirgelike “I May Know the Word.”