In any live performance scenario, silence is usually the kiss of death. Even a negative reaction is better than no reaction at all, so from an outsider’s perspective, Tuesday night’s (October 26) Corin Tucker Band concert at New York’s Bowery Ballroom might have looked like a disaster. But the silence between tunes wasn’t out of boredom or embarrassment, but rather out of reverence. For most of the capacity crowd, it had been far too long since singer and guitarist Corin Tucker — formerly of groundbreaking band Sleater-Kinney — had been in front of them on a stage grinding out guitar jams and letting her powerful, unique singing voice fill the space.
Tucker is on the road for the first time since her former band called it quits in 2006 and just released the first album of her post-Sleater-Kinney life in 1,000 Years, a moody collection of rock tunes that balance jittery guitar crunch with an understated sense of beauty and refinement. At Tuesday night’s show, the turned-to-11 jams (like “Riley” and “Doubt,” the latter of which sounds the most like Sleater-Kinney) got the biggest reactions, but Tucker’s quieter moments were the most stunning. The band paused for a brief acoustic interlude (including strings) for runs through gorgeously-arranged new epics like “It’s Always Summer” and “Dragon,” both of which began small and swelled to surprising crescendos. “Miles Away,” which opened Tucker’s encore and features little more than her gentle, dynamic voice and a rolling piano riff, is lovely on the album but became a full-blooded torch song on stage. Sleater-Kinney’s songs mostly all swirl and no release, but Tucker’s new approach seems to be about resolution.
Tucker is a woman of few words — outside of an aborted story about where she got her vintage dress, there wasn’t much in the way of between-song banter. But she was quite gracious. In the midst of one of those stunned silences, someone shouted “Thank you!” Tucker, slightly taken aback, chuckled and said “You’re welcome.” Clearly, she was as happy to be back on stage as the crowd was to have her in the building again.