From days when the Motels made dark, moody music through their increasingly slick sound--the Motels' concerts were always much better than their records. The same holds true for former Motels leader Martha Davis, whose debut with her new band at the Coach House Friday was sort of like a holiday party.
The club was packed, yet the show's intimacy, informality and spirit made it seem as if a small group of Davis' friends and family had dropped by for a holiday gathering. Instead of carols, though, the music was several Motels tunes and all of her new "Policy" LP.
Whatever you think about the safer, smoother road Davis has traveled in recent years, she has become a more versatile and evocative singer. And her increased sophistication as a vocal stylist really does demand more sophisticated material, even if some might pine for the starker, grittier edges of her early work. Besides, the new stuff went over at least as well as the Motels material.
Toward the end of the set, Davis commented on the crowd's response to the show, saying, "This is the best Christmas present I ever got." Then someone in the audience handed her a bouquet of roses, and Davis absolutely melted--closing her eyes and clutching the flowers to her. It was a wonderfully touching moment in a wonderfully triumphant evening.
Davis plays the Roxy tonight.