Shalin Liu, Rockport MA • 3/2/13
I like these theaters that use an unseen MC over the PA to introduce the band (and clear up the pronunciation of this venue—sha-lin lew)—it reminds me of when I was a teen attending amazing shows at the Brooklyn Fox Theatre. The “voice” introduces the Dejas, and two guitarist, one of each gender, find their seats on the stage. The 320-seat theatre is full tonight and Aaron Katz and Callie Lipton know this is not their typical gig. They straight-strum in unison as Callie spills a gentle warm vocal melody into the room with a delivery not unlike Ingrid Michaelson (“The Way I Am”). Next they’re strumming in 6/8 and harmonizing. Callie reminds us that this show was originally scheduled on the day of the big snow storm when the governor declared it illegal to drive after 4:00. “Rise Up” follows with Aaron switching over to piano. Both sets of their parents are in attendance and you can feel the pride swelling in the room. The Dejas respond with a reggae-tinged “Sounds of Silence” with Aaron on the djembe. They end with “Beneath You,” just like they end with it on their CD, Speeding Softly.
Chelsea Berry walks out in a black layered dress, hair pulled back with glittering earrings, and let’s loose, unaccompanied, with David Sudbury’s “The King of Rome.” She leaves no one to question the gifted presence and powerhouse vocals she possesses. She moves back to the piano to sweetly deliver “Never Saw Blue” then brings out the four-piece band to rock up the songs from her latest offering, Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. The beautiful “I Wonder” gets my pick for the highlight of the set with wonderful three-part female harmonies, a little glockenspiel, and a lovely acoustic guitar solo. Like the Jagger/Richards combo, Chelsea pals with guitarist Michael Thomas Doyle, who switches from a wild posing rocker to a deliverer of sensitive tasty fills, and even kisses Chelsea at the end of their sexy duet, “Running in Circles.” Chelsea also picks up cellist Kristen Miller with the line “What kinda guitar is that?” then rolls into Peter Gabriel’s “Here Comes the Flood.” They end with the title track of her CD, but it doesn’t feel like a finale. And it’s not. Chelsea returns after a standing O to remind everyone that she can do this with no instruments at all—as she does with her signature song, “Hallelujah” penned by Leonard Cohen. And the band is not far behind with a rockin’ version of “You Me and Mary”—and they don’t skimp—we get the big rock ending! (T Max)