The City Winery Chicago was treated to a night of talented singer-songwriters in the form of HoneyHoney and opening act Korey Dane.
As the crowd hushed, Korey Dane took to the stage. After getting over the slight hiccup of his guitar not coming through the PA, and laughing off the fact that he no longer trusted the audience since no one told him when he asked, Dane proceeded to entertain the Chicago City Winery. Asking if they wanted “viciously sad” or just “moderately sad” love songs, he held everyone’s attention with a stripped back performance, just him and his acoustic guitar.
Dane mentioned that a lot of his material was drawn from his time spent hitchhiking after dropping out of school, during which he had time to contemplate life and what it all meant. These and other life experiences have been great fuel for the singer-songwriter who, it is clear, pours his heart and soul into his songs.
Whilst Dane joked during the set that he needed to work on his spoken word, his spoken word and various one-liners definitely helped endear him to the audience throughout the night.
Selling out the City Winery is not something to be dismissed, and it is clear that Chicago thinks fondly of HoneyHoney. The band brings together the considerable talents of Suzanne Santo, Ben Jaffe and drummer Connor Meehan.
Given that the band are officially meant to be “hiatusing”, and with no new HoneyHoney material, they varied the setlist by performing songs from across HoneyHoney’s back catalog along with tracks from Suzanne and Ben’s new solo material. Suzanne’s “Ghost In My Bed” and “Bullets” from her new album Ruby Red and Ben’s “Susan The Cat” (which he was was careful to point out was not about his bandmate but an actual cat) from his upcoming album Oh, Wild Ocean of Love, all make an appearance.
Saying that Suzanne has a great voice really does not do it justice and hearing her perform live truly adds an extra dimension to the experience. Her voice can be both powerful and delicate, husky one moment and bell-clear the next. The fact that she can be enjoying a joke with Ben or the audience one moment and then conveying such emotion through that voice the next is amazing to experience in person. She also effortlessly provides instrumental accompaniment through the night, alternating between the banjo, violin and guitar with ease.
Ben Jaffe’s smile didn’t budge all night and he was clearly enjoying his time on the stage. Whilst Suzanne’s voice often draws a good deal of attention, Ben is equally as critical to HoneyHoney’s sound. In a three-piece with no bass player, it would be easy for the band’s live sound to be a bit thin. However, Ben manages to effectively act as both bass and guitar player on his own. His lush, reverb-laden guitar parts, complemented by Connor Meehan’s deep and prominent kick drum, effectively fill the space and make you feel like you’re surrounded by the songs. It’s not all strictly rhythm playing and the well-placed guitar breaks hint towards a hidden shredder within (although it’s doubtful we’ll be seeing him in leather pants with a poodle perm anytime soon).
Its clear watching Ben and Suzanne on stage together that the bond between them runs deep and you can see that the pair still get a huge kick from playing music together. Having spent the best part of 11 years playing, traveling and creating music together, it’s perfectly normal for the pair to be pursuing solo projects and listening to their new material gives insight into what each of the pair bring to the HoneyHoney party. Suzanne’s new album is a dark, moody Americana effort, which often sees her exorcising demons from relationships gone by whilst “Dominator” from Ben’s upcoming album, hints at a slightly more experimental approach. Indeed, he recently posted a great re-arrangement of this song, primarily using synthesizers (provided by Jon Price) on HoneyHoney’s Facebook page which is well worth checking out.
Meanwhile, a great night at City Winery is rounded out with “Burned Me Out” and Suzanne’s “Bullets” (the sentiment of which was particularly poignant given the horrendous events that took place in Las Vegas earlier in the week).
Whilst the pair are currently taking the time to spread their creative wings it’s impossible to imagine, on tonight’s evidence, that they will not find their way back to each other to produce more music as HoneyHoney in the future. There was certainly a room full of people in Chicago on Wednesday who hope this will be the case.
Both Suzanne and Ben have solo shows scheduled so be sure to check out their dates.
Event Date: 04-OCT-2017