Tall Heights with Upper Structure
Sunday, December 8, 2019
Portland House of Music and Events, Portland, Maine
I saw Tall Heights play for the first time with Tricky Britches and The Ghost of Paul Revere back in 2013 at One Longfellow Square. I saw them again in 2014 and 2015, but not again until last week. When I saw they were doing a seated show with Berklee College of Music a cappella group Upper Structure, I bought my ticket and made plans to get to Portland House of Music and Events on a chilly Sunday night. I love Tall Heights’ powerful collaboration on “Spirit Cold” with Upper Structure and am a sucker for a cappella, too.
The show was very mellow, and Upper Structure didn’t do an opening set, so it was an early night, as well. Paul Wright (cello) and Tim Harrington (guitar) took the stage with their drummer, Paul Dumas, and six-member Upper Structure. Tim talked about his 8-month-old son and the conflicting feelings of being scared about parenting and the love he has for his son when introducing “Under Your Skin.”
Tim also told us that Jack from Upper Structure emailed them when “Two Blue Eyes” wasn’t on the set list for the short run of shows they were doing together to say that he was out if it they didn’t add it to the list. They joked that they didn’t feel like making an arrangement for six singers for the song, so “here he is.” Jack popped on stage without the rest of Upper Structure and sang a third part with just Tim and Paul.
Tim also introduced “Roanoke”–the last song on their latest album. He said “it’s an art piece for the artist, but it’s not the kind of song my parents would like. So if you don’t like it, I don’t care. The next four minutes are actually for us.” Paul didn’t say if his parents liked the song, but when he mentioned they were in the crowd, a couple sitting near me beamed with pride, which was very sweet since they’d told us this was their last show of the decade and I love that Paul’s parents were there for it.
As always, even a seated show for a folk duo had at least one major concert etiquette issue. A woman sitting in the very front row on the upper level adjacent to the stage (and directly between me and the stage) was whispering loudly into her girlfriend’s ear throughout the entire night. It was so distracting and rude and seems to be the norm for folks at just about every show I end up at, always.
Towards the end of their set, Tall Heights told us that their collaboration with Upper Structure was very fulfilling, because are great singers and great people, too. They introduced “Keeps Me Light” as a reflection on what is happening in the world and said “there’s something very defiant about hope.” I think that’s a good song to end this decade with, actually. I’d had a couple more shows on my potential list, but it turns out that this was also my last show of the decade. I was so glad to catch up with Nikhil and Sam from SnugHouse and the incomparable Kevin Oates after the show, too. It was the perfect icing on the cake of this last show of the decade. See you in 2020!