While she's always been solid in the studio, Carlile is a delight on stage and the voice she uses on her records turns awesomely gravelly when she's engaging her audience with tracks like "Looking Out," the surging rocker that explodes on Live at Benaroya Hall, thanks in part to the 30-piece orchestral assist she gets from the symphony. Fans of her radio hit, "Dreams," will hear it in rare form on this disc, displaying the energy Carlile devotes to her live act. Another treasure to be found here is her cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," which has long been a staple of her set list. This version stretches out to 11-plus minutes and includes a tease of Alpahville's "Forever Young."
But again, what's most engaging about this album is how it so precisely captures Carlile's live act, showing those who've only heard her recordings what they've been missing out on every time she comes to town.
Brandi Carlile performs at the Tower Theatre on Thursday, May 5 at 7pm. The show is sold out. Live at Benaroya Hall is released on May 3.