Kelly Hogan Keeps Things Intimate at Iron Horse Show

Photo by Neko Case

The fact that only a small audience turned up to see Kelly Hogan perform at the Iron Horse Monday night didn’t faze the singer. She seemed to see her first gig there since 1990 as more of an opportunity. “This is so intimate, we’re all going to be pregnant,” she cracked midway through a set of songs that came mostly from her recent album “I Like to Keep Myself in Pain.”

Hogan is perhaps most familiar to audiences for her work singing with Neko Case, but Hogan shines plenty bright at center stage with a voice as versatile as her wide-ranging musical taste. She sounded pretty and delicate on the low-key “Plant White Roses,” and let loose a flood of emotion over a climbing circle of guitar arpeggios and big drums on the vintage-style rocker “No, Bobby Don’t,” from her 2001 release “Because It Feels Good.” Nora O’Connor played a thumpy bassline with plenty of movement on “We Can’t Have Nice Things” and added sweet harmonies here and there throughout, while guitarist James Elkington threw down a stinging solo on “Golden” that earned him a round of applause mid-song.

“I Like to Keep Myself in Pain” consists of songs that other songwriters penned for Hogan, though not every tune made the album: Jeff Tweedy liked “Open Mind” so much he put it on Wilco’s 2011 release “The Whole Love” instead, Hogan said. Her version Monday night had a sparer lilt that was well-suited to her lovely, clear vocals. She finished what was supposed to be the main set with a straight-ahead rendition of the rocker “Haunted,” then threw in a few more song for an encore.

O’Connor took over lead vocals (and switched to guitar) on Fleetwood Mac’s “That’s Alright,” then Hogan dished out double-entendres on the suggestive “Sugarbowl”  by request. She wrapped up the show the same way she closed the album: With “Pass on By,” a country-soul tune with a tinge of heartache.

Boston band Kingsley Flood opened the show with a set of rootsy rock tunes that included flourishes on violin and trumpet.

— Eric R. Danton


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