Gillian Welch and longtime musical accomplice Dave Rawlings proved dark and merciless as ever at the Charleston Music Hall Sunday night, playing a set of songs that spanned a nearly two-decade career of folk songwriting with astonishing chops and passion.
The Music Hall only announced the show a month in advance, but the seats were packed with fans eager to catch a rare glimpse of the duo in Charleston. "We just kind of felt like playin'," Welch said by way of explanation early on.
And boy are we glad they obeyed that urge. Welch and Rawlings played most of the hits ("Revelator," "Look At Miss Ohio," "Hard Times") before the audience could even shout out their requests, and after a quick intermission, they wowed us with some surprising moments. Welch did a little soft-shoe tap routine on "Six White Horses," and Rawlings led the way on a stirring medley of "This Land Is Your Land" and the Dave Rawlings Machine song "I Hear Them All."
Welch hasn't released a record since 2011's The Harrow & The Harvest, and the Sunday night show didn't give us any glimpses of new material. But the old songs still sounded fresh and arresting. By the time Rawlings had ripped through his last guitar solo and Welch had sung her last bar, more than a few jaws were agape in the crowd. Come back anytime you please, Gill and Dave.