Glen Phillips Intimate Evening at YMCA Boulton Center for the performing arts Bay Shore, NY 4-12-14 with Natalia Zukerman

Toad The Wet Sprocket singer/songwriter Glen Phillips hit the road in mid-April to partake in a line of solo performances with support from Natalia Zukerman. Driving themselves down from Rockport, MA the night before, the duo arrived at the YMCA Boulton Center For The Performing Arts in Bay Shore, NY on Saturday April 12th for an intimate evening of music.

Gracing the stage first was New York native Natalia Zukerman.  As a singer/songwriter for over a decade now, Zukerman’s music is best described as a mix of jazz, rock, folk, bluegrass, and country.  Her broad range in sound and style has been dubbed by many as one of the finest examples of Americana on the scene today.  Now five albums deep into her career, Zukerman continues to make music that captivates audiences around the USA.

Full of energy and an overall positive aura, Zukerman’s performance was fun and engaging at the same time. Showing her wide range of talents, she played her guitar with ease and her voice was strong and clear. For this quaint setting, the smooth relaxing guitar playing and story-telling lyrics of her music fit perfectly. Speaking candidly and pleasantly with the audience, Zukerman had a stage presence that lit up the room. There was even a point during her set that Phillips himself came out to sing a duet with her. It is easy to see why Phillips teamed up with Zukerman for this string of shows and showed appreciation for her performance with a series of applauds.

After a brief intermission, it was time for Glen Phillips to perform in front of a group of eager and loving fans. After all the years of success with Toad The Wet Sprocket, including a handful of radio hits and over three million albums sold, Phillips has managed to find the time to compose and record four powerful solo albums. An evening such as this is a special and unique event, not only to see Phillips perform, but in a stripped down set with just himself, a microphone, and a stool; opening his heart with the art of music.

Approaching the stage with a smile and humble hello, Phillips went into a series of mood setting songs. The set was riddled with wonderful surprises including solo material from his Coyote Sessions (2012) album, a song from his time with super-group Works Progression Administration, some Toad The Wet Sprocket classics, and a primary selection of cover tunes. Toad The Wet Sprocket tunes primarily focused on the band’s New Constellation (2013) album; their first since 1997’s Coil. Fans smiled, hummed along, and most of all paid close attention as they heard some of their old and new favorite tunes come to life in this unplugged performance.

Moving along in the set, Phillips’ rendition of Metric’s “Gimme Sympathy” really hit the spot as his own unique style bled through.  Phillips kept the mood laid back, sprinkling in a lot of amusing personal stories in between songs while he tuned his guitar and set up the next song to be played.  Laughter and audience interaction was contest and organic throughout the performance.  Phillips even hinted if fans were up for supporting some new Works Progression Administration material, he and his friends would be glad to conjure up some new music.

Adding dynamics to the performance, Zukerman came out on stage to play a few tunes with Phillips. The chemistry the two share glowed bright on the stage as you can tell they are not just touring together, but they are friends as well. Zukerman’s voice backed Phillips’, adding warmth along with mixing in some acoustic guitar and even slide guitar. Perhaps one of the most memorable moments of their time together on stage was the collaboration for their cover of Eurythmics “Here Comes The Rain Again”.  Sharing a hug, the two musicians concluded this segment of the show and a mass cheer came from the audience.

Offering up more music on his own, Phillips played more Toad The Wet Sprocket pieces such as everyone’s favorite “All I Want” and the crowd interacting “Finally Fading”, kept the magic going until the very end. With grace, Phillips waved goodnight to the Boulton Center only to be cheered back on moments later for an encore. The encore was highlighted by Phillips unplugging his guitar and stepping in front of the microphone to play “I Don’t Need Anything” completely bare and natural.  Brave and bold Phillips played without the comfort of amplification and nailed it with ear-tingling inflections and tone echoing through the theater.

This was the type of show, after a long stressful week of work, fans could look to as a time to unwind and loss themselves in music. Although this was a brief tour, fear not as Phillips will be back on the road soon with the upcoming summer tour of Toad The Wet Sprocket.

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