If you heard shaking on the peninsula last night, it was not from a mini earthquake hitting the fault line, but a collective movement of jumping, clapping and screaming from the composed direction of ZZ Ward. Last evening, the Charleston Music Farm released a level of musical energy not seen for a long time provided by the Pied Piper ZZ Ward and her friends Marc Scibilia and Young Wild.
We begin the evening early with a meet and greet. As ZZ Ward stepped out in a carefully chosen outfit right from the racks of a designer consignment shop, the few select fans clapped and smiled. Her genuine smile and caring demeanor shined as she took pictures, signed autographs and enjoyed a few quiet moments with her dedicated fans.
Like the drop of a hat, at 7:30 a group of young musicians calling themselves Young Wild gave a spirited 30 minute set. During a musical break, they indicated this had been the furthest from home they had ever toured. That youthful charm, vulnerability and fun upbeat sound was a fine way to introduce a very entertaining evening of music, fan participation and all out celebration of love, heartbreak and life.
Marc Scibilia took the stage next. First glance from the floor and you felt like you were looking at a young Lenny Kravitz with his dark frizzy hair, tight guitar riffs and powerful stage presence. After a powerful opening, Marc slowed the tempo with Wide Open Arms, a love song with references to Rhianna and youth.
During Better Man, he introduced a strong lyrical performance highlighted by the line, “I’m a frail man. I ain’t no fucking fairy tale.” That song lyrically remained with me long after the set was complete.
Finally he reminded us that we need each other with How Bad We Need Each Other because “storms never come to stay”. With a performance scheduled for the Today Show on September 18, I think we are going to see great things from this multi-layered talent.
At 9:35, beams of blue, white and red strobe lights scorched into the crowded as a drummer and two guitarists situated themselves around the stage. In her short red dress and black hat and a smile that lit up the stage, ZZ Ward stepped out center stage and immediately played to the screams of the crowd. After a quick and powerful mini set to open, she reminded her fans of their importance in her journey and invited us to take a step back to her roots and go on a musical trip together. She recalled a hot steamy show in Charleston over a year ago and graciously thanked the fans for continuing to stay by her side.
Her cheery soulful angst presence took us through periods of her life with penetrating lyrics and emotional undertones.
“When your strength is not enough, I’ll rescue you” came from Rescue You off her new EP; a powerful reminder of love, friendship and commitment. Shortly after, with her hypnotic eyes and girl next door beauty, ZZ Ward played up the sexiness of Charleston and transitioned into Charlie Ain’t Home, a defining crowd participation song.
The set concluded with the belting power ballet, Blue Eyes Blind. With her powerful soul driven vocals and strong instrumental support the song had the crowd dancing, jumping and wanting more.
For fans of ZZ Ward, lyrics like, “You set me straight, just like an arrow, Until we lay, caught in the afterglow, My world was gray with all the others, Until you came, you showed me colors,” from Blue Eyes Blind are a reminder of that love is fragile, but worth the risk and in the end, it is about those moments shared and the future that make the journey all worth it.
From her opening of Put the Gun Down to her set conclusion, the powerful rock and blues induced set inspired a packed house at the Charleston Music Farm. It didn’t take long for ZZ Ward and the band to return to the fans for an encore. This time they turned it up a notch and took the stage to the crowd. With her lead guitarist, she walked down the steps and walked into the center of the crowd. With a circle forming around and IPhones for all the eye to see, she sang Love3x with the audience in a jubilant delight.
As the encore concluded, I found myself looking around at the crowd clapping and dancing and screaming. It was a level of excitement I have not witnessed at a concert in a long time.
With a rich medley of rock, dance and blues, ZZ Ward and friends brought the house from its knees to reaching for the clouds. From the balconies to the floor, the fans celebrated the passion of music with admiration and a whole lot of fun.