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Elizabeth Moen Enchants the Englert


By Mary Walz
Photos by Alyson Kuennen

 

The intoxicating voice of Elizabeth Moen filled Iowa City’s Englert Theatre in a triumphant last appearance for about nine months. She leaves to tour Europe and around the Midwest for the better part of next year. This was her first headlining appearance at the Englert, celebrating the release of her sophomore LP, A Million Miles Away. Joining her onstage were Young Charles and Hot Tang, both new voices to the Iowa City music scene.

 
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YOUNG CHARLES started the show with no introduction,

just a hit of the drums then a jump straight into the first song. Lead singer and songwriter, Mitch McAndrew, fell a little short in the larger venue while the band members struggled to connect to one another’s varied parts. Their set, while disjointed, was high energy and had the audience enjoying themselves.

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HOT TANG slowed things down a bit,

the sweet high melodies of Megan Buick whispered into the microphone. After each song, she thanked the audience and exchanged a nervous grin with her bandmates, endearing them to the audience. Their image was completed by the smiling sun on Anna Kahn’s keyboard and the double French braids of Buick.

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The anticipation for local legend ELIZABETH MOEN

hung over the crowd as the lights dimmed to a soft golden glow. As soon as Moen strode out in her black combat boots and platinum hair — tinted blue by stage light — the crowd erupted.

Her voice cut through the noise and the crowd’s breath caught in unison, enthralled by the first clear note. She belted out with an effortless, jazzy confidence colored by pure emotion. She reached straight out from the stage and into the audience, dragging each individual with her and through each song. Mesmerized, they were all too willing to go.

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ELIZABETH MOEN is cool.

She danced along to each song, bantering with the audience in between with the confidence of the crowd being a close friend. After taking a short break and a costume change into a silvery dress, she brought the audience back for a folksier song — one she revealed to be her brother’s favorite.

She had the audience laughing with her likable, self-deprecating humor, “I usually talk way too much, except when I’m supposed to talk and then I can’t think of anything to say…” before stunning them once again with her vocal performance. Her sound is reminiscent of Amy Winehouse — jazzy, honest, and seductive.

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MOEN gave credit to her team,

composed of friends from Iowa City. She spoke about how this City of Writing is a breeding ground for artists to get together and “do some cools things,” crediting the town for her realization that music was what she wanted to do.

After she professed her love for the community, she brought local kids up on stage to sing with her, calling them by name and asking them to introduce themselves. They obliged with adorable enthusiasm.

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She finished the show with the song “RED” off her new album,

capping the evening with a standing ovation that stretched into an encore followed by another standing ovation. She then invited the crowd to hang out with her at local bar, The Mill. And she meant it. After the concert when asked how she felt, she grinned, exhilarated, and said “Oh, it felt great, especially cause I’m wearing these comfy things,” as she lifted her foot to show off the infamous black combat boots.