Review: ‘Alison Krauss and Union Station’

Alison Krauss and Union Station -- basically an acoustic string band -- were a smart choice for a test run of Disney Concert Hall's vaunted acoustics work for a pop band. By the evening's fourth selection, they had settled into a comfortably agile groove: bluegrass smoothed out with modern country and torch ballads.

Alison Krauss and Union Station — basically an acoustic string band — were a smart choice for a test run of Disney Concert Hall’s vaunted acoustics work for a pop band. While they approached the music gingerly early on, as if they were worried about scruffing up the gleaming new hall or tracking in some dirt, by the evening’s fourth selection, “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You,” they had settled into a comfortably agile groove: bluegrass smoothed out with modern country and torch ballads.

The 85-minute set pretty much followed the group’s year-old live album on Rounder. It’s a well-paced, if unsurprising, evening showcasing both Krauss’ lissome vocals and the band’s impressive instrumental prowess, especially Jerry Douglas’ stinging work on dobro and Ron Block’s deft banjo and guitar.

The sound, even when drummer Larry Atamanuik joined the band, was wonderfully transparent. Amplification was kept to a minimum — at times you could hear Krauss’ singing, the scrape of Douglas’ bottleneck on his dobro and Atamanuik’s brushes on the ride cymbals directly from the stage (although those seated on the side or behind the band occasionally had trouble hearing the vocals). Only Barry Bale’s stand-up bass sounded muffled.

Alison Krauss and Union Station

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles; 2,265 seats; $80 top

Production

Presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Assn. in assn. with KCRW.

Cast

Band: Alison Krauss, Barry Bales, Ron Block, Jerry Douglas, Dan Tyminski, Larry Atamanuik. Reviewed Dec. 2, 2003.

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