Concerts Concerts Lindi Ortega: Brilliant Musicianship, Charm

Lindi Ortega: Brilliant Musicianship, Charm

Lindi Ortega at The Garrison
Lindi Ortega
Henry Nozuka, Mandippal Jandu
The Garrison in Toronto, ON
July 21, 2011

Review by: Lee Fraser
Photos by: Allison Janzen

This little lady may not be playing little clubs for much longer, judging by the quality of the show she put on at The Garrison.

Lindi Ortega

It was a hot, muggy night. The temperature had reached record highs for the city of Toronto earlier that day. Everyone was moving slowly and it seemed like moseying to the bar for a beer was ambitious enough. The two supporting acts, Henry Nozuka and Mandippal Jandu, picked up the energy level. Henry and his brother showed off a little fancy footwork during his philosophical musings on mermaids, evolution and personal finances. Mandippal actually managed to get the audience to participate in a short but sweet ladies versus the guys sing-along.

By the time Lindi Ortega and the band hit the stage, the air conditioning and the beverages had accomplished their desired effect. A moody intro of deep-sounding guitar and percussion led into "All of the Angels", a song that quickly moves into a classic country style. It was followed right up with the beautiful guitar picking intro of "All My Friends", an extended sequence of the version on the album. 

It is at this point that it is easy to put all of the pieces together: the voice, the talent, the network. Lindi has been touring Europe with Brandon Flowers (best known as the lead singer of The Killers) as one of his back-up singers. The album she just released last month (with a sold-out CD release party at The Dakota) features Toronto guitar legend Kevin Breit, as well as the likes of Richard Underhill (of the 80's jazz-funk band the Shuffle Demons) and three members of Toronto’s beloved jackSOUL.

On stage at The Garrison, we were treated to an ensemble of incredible talent. Anne Lieberwirth played a stand-up bass with gorgeous tone through the entire set. Drummer Tristan Henderson did an exquisite job of the percussion track of each song, particularly standing out on "Little Lie". David Engle focused intently on his keys, providing the foundations and layered textures that fill out the sound of each song's live performance. Relinquished to "Guitar #2" on the LP, the classy and gifted guitarist, Justin Abedin, took the leading role for this show, as he did at The Dakota.

It's difficult to focus on the other musicians, however, because your attention tends to be focused on the star of the show. Wearing shades (all the better to see her fans with, of course) and the little red cowboy boots that are the namesake of her debut album, Lindi Ortega keeps you enraptured through the set. She has a wry sense of humour and very easy-going chatter between songs. Pointing out where a shot of whiskey might be placed by her mic stand garners the intended reaction; the fact that 50 shots didn't suddenly appear is almost puzzling. Generous with her compliments towards the audience that braved the heat and her backing band for their skill and talent, Lindi wins everyone over and turns the show into a friendly gathering in no time.

And then, there's the voice. There have been comparisons to famous female country vocalists, sure, but if you listen to Lindi Ortega, there is no comparison. She has her own unique vocals, ranging from sexy and teasing (title track "Little Red Boots") to soulful and sweet ("When All The Stars Align") to a powerful "who the hell are you?" voice ("I’m No Elvis Presley"). Listening to Little Red Boots is a treat, and seeing her perform these songs live is what a live music experience is all about. Even though it had been the hottest day of the summer, the audience was all goose bumps and smiles, feeling lucky to have had the chance to see Lindi Ortega in such a small venue.

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