Roseanne Cash, still a gorgeous firecracker at 58, proved you’re never too old to rock. She played the TD Arena Sunday night in a special one-time only performance; her first time back at Spoleto Festival USA in 20 years.
“But I learned a few things along the way,” Cash said, “and here we are with you again.” Cash performed with John Leventhal on vocals and guitars, Marc Copely on guitars, Glenn Patscha on keyboards, Tim Luntzel on bass and Dan Rieser on drums.
Cash seduced the crowd with her full-bodied country woman’s vocals, moist as devil’s food cake. You’d never suspect she sprang from Johnny Cash, the man who could talk his way through a song. Roseanne Cash’s set leaned heavy on “The List,” her 2009 album. It features covers of songs from an actual list of 100 essential American songs her father compiled for her on her 18th birthday.
Cash sang “Sea of Heartbreak,” originally made famous by Don Gibson in 1962. On “The List,” Cash performs it as a duet with Bruce Springsteen. “Is he here?” she asked coyly. “Nope,” she shrugged and motioned to Leventhal, her husband and the producer on “The List.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, the other Boss!” Cash said. Leventhal added warm color to Cash’s lead vocals.
Cash pulled from classic country in the harmonies and train’s-a-comin’ backbone in many of her songs. But in the smattering of new material she premiered from her forthcoming album “The Thread and the River,” she dug into solid ’90s rock with guitar solos revived. Leventhal and Copely worked six guitars between them, and Cash wasn’t too shabby herself on her acoustic.
They have fun with her sad-song heavy set list. “I was thinking there aren’t enough hangings in popular music,” Cash said, “You never hear ‘scaffold’ on Top 40 radio.” But you’ll hear it in a Roseanne Cash song as she effortlessly melts genres. Cash sounded even fuller and smoother than she did in her early days with crossover hits like “Seven Year Ache,” which she sang with gusto near the very end of her show. Cross your fingers it won’t be another 20 years before Cash sings for Spoleto again.
Paige Cooperstein is a Goldring Arts Journalist from Syracuse University.