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An intimate concert doesn't mean the audience has to total no more than 50, it doesn't mean that it has to total no more than 200, but having an audience of over 1,000 come in just as up close and personal as those smaller ones is extremely rare. The recent tour of The Civil Wars brought the duo to a venue housing 1,050 people among the streets of Kansas. And their music created an extremely memorable evening.

Still working off the 2011 release Barton Hollow, John Paul White and Joy Williams have not only grabbed themselves a Grammy nomination, but a large following as well. And even though their music may be labeled as country, their appeal brings in fans from every corner.

Now you may ask - what would a night with a Grammy nominee look like? Well, for this particular evening it featured nearly every song from the full length, as well as a few well-placed covers, all set in a historical theater so quiet, one dared not even to sneeze. "Forget Me Not" had that country slide one might expect from any band labeled as such. The passionate declarations of love were brought to life in the gentle sways and long gazes the duo played back-and-forth. And John's guitar kept a light and airy melody flowing between a handful of chords. The joy continued with "I've Got This Friend" when the audience was introduced to the story of a couple of friends. As the fingers danced along the strings plucking out a youthful tune, vocals jumped from male to female telling each side of the tale. The fate of the couple is never revealed, but the sentiment of the song lead the audience to believe they would one day realize they were destined.

Even though some may consider "Poison & Wine" to be the band's official single, it was "Barton Hollow" that took the show to another level. From the first few notes, the theater was transformed into a church, splashed with white, filled with families fanning themselves from the Southern heat and a choir of voices stronger than any heard before. The beauty of the song is it kicked itself into high gear about 11 seconds in, as that's the moment when the audience randomly realized their feet were tapping. It was pretty hard to ignore that bass beat so powerful it could shake the earth. Even the security guy who "didn't really know them", was in a full body rhythm bob by the end of the song. After a few covers the original set did come to an end and as predicted, opened the audience's hearts with "Poison & Wine". The tempo on this song is maybe one of the slowest and most somber on the entire album, however it was definitely the song that captured the most attention. This was the only number the entire night that took Joy from her post next to John and sat her at a baby grand piano. One could say that if the night was filled with words of friendship, hard times and the search for love then this song tied it all up with a nice little bow and confirmation of emotion.

In addition to the incredible music, that night with The Civil Wars showed us just how incredible of people those two are. The sibling banter complimented the displays of encouragement shared. It was easy to see just how much they truly admired each other. And letting their audience see them this way only furthered the honesty in their music. I wouldn't call this a concert, but rather "An Evening with The Civil Wars".

-Rachel Fredrickson

The Civil Wars
January 17th, 2012
Liberty Hall, Lawrence KS

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