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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Indigo Girls All Business on Love Tunes

August 29, 1994|STEVE HOCHMAN

Before their own headlining set at the Universal Amphitheatre on Friday, the Indigo Girls joined their opening act, the Big Fish Ensemble, for a spry version of Nick Lowe's "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding."

It was the last time the Indigos would bring to mind the words spry and funny that night, as their own songs of love and understanding are somber business indeed.

After five years on the national scene, Atlanta's Amy Ray and Emily Saliers come off like co-chairs of the Important Artist Society, Sensitive Folkie Division. Their recent "Swamp Ophelia" album lightens the load a bit with well-crafted musical ornamentation, underscoring a developing maturity and grace in their writing.

But as an acoustic duo on Friday (the first of two nights at the Universal) they were free to throw the weight of their material around to their heavy hearts' content--harmonic pronouncement after pronouncement, punctuating strum after strum, same-sounding song after song.

Second-billed Kristin Hersh (on leave from Throwing Muses) also took the ultra-serious approach, though there's an intimate intensity to her songs, suggesting a coffeehouse Sinead O'Connor. Unfortunately, that quality was largely lost in the big venue.

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