In a pair of blue jeans, a black silk button up and a black hat, ZZ Ward kept her style simple to accentuate her vocal range that was anything but. Despite the snow, it was well worth waiting outside for her Tuesday performance at the Majestic.
Openers Billy Raffoul and Black Pistol Fire amped up the crowd’s energy in anticipation. Raffoul’s dreamy voice was raspy to perfection.
“I would actually hire him to personally sing me lullabies,” my friend who I brought along said. His voice was just that interesting and satisfying to listen to.
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Black Pistol Fire provided a pure rock and roll performance as the lead singer and guitarist jumped and rolled all around the stage. He even stepped into the crowd at one point, which really got everyone pumped for Ward.
Despite the fact my friend and I were definitely the only college students in attendance, let alone the only concert goers below the approximate age of 34 in the crowd, her performance did not feel comparable to a senior citizen. The energy on stage between all members of her band, including one specifically cute bass guitarist (Max, if you’re reading this, please call me), was undeniable.
ZZ Ward is the real deal in terms of sounding exactly like her vocal bytes on Spotify. She’s real.
It’s easy to connect with her as a fan as she emits a friendly and easy-going vibrancy. Her vocals were insane despite her laid back and humble disposition.
“Cannonball,” “Ghosts,” “Bag of Bones” and “Domino” were just a handful of songs that the audience was able to deeply connect with. In fact, a man behind me kept trying to match her exact notes, including her freestyled runs. Let’s just say … he should stick to his day job.
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There is a familiarity with Ward’s voice in that, at times, she can be compared to Adele with a pinch of Demi Lovato and a dash of Elle King with an American-blues twist. Despite most of the lyrics in her latest songs speaking about graves, bones and ghosts — as well as touching upon the topics of loneliness and heartbreak — Ward had the time of her life on that stage.
Did you think all of the harmonica melodies on her album were the work of another musician? Well, then you thought wrong. Ward took out her harmonica periodically throughout her performance and either plugged it into the amplifier or played it directly into the microphone.
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This unique talent set her apart from other American-blues folk artists and, boy, does she have quite the lung capacity. As my voice goes hoarse after only some slight stress, I kept wondering throughout her performance how she was capable of transitioning from low and soulful to higher pitches so perfectly.
There were some points throughout her performance that definitely surprised me, such as when she sang “Merry Well” as the lyrics include “I ride in my Benzy / With the ice on my wrist / Crash it if I wanna /’Cause I buy my own shit.”
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As it can be implied, these lyrics did not compliment her somewhat innocent All-American gal image. As a major hip hop fan myself, however, she appealed to that specific taste of mine to some degree.
Somehow, Ward was capable of walking the line between sweet, sexy and badass while still providing a cohesive set with effortless transitions between melodies. Among her vocals, guitars (yes, she had multiple) and harmonica, it is clear that she is not only talented but dedicated to and passionate about music.
“Her voice is ridiculous. She’s so talented,” the guy to my left said multiple times throughout the performance to his date. There was a couple up on the balcony to stage left that were definitely getting a little bit too frisky on a Tuesday night, but at least they chilled out a bit during the violent head-nod inducing guitar and drum solos.
Despite Ward’s recurring theme of sinister blues, she also brings positivity and light through her love of Christ, and you can tell that although she has been hurt in the game of love, she has not completely given up faith on it either.
Although I did not feel as if I was among peers or a crowd I fit in with, I still managed to thoroughly enjoy her performance as she is an undeniably skilled vocal force. I am excited to see where music takes her, and I hope to someday attend another one of her concerts.