The last time I saw Michelle Branch was in June 2002 as the singer played the Madison Square Garden marquee for a WNBA special event. Odd placing, but unforgettable as it was my first “concert” and my first time meeting her after the show. I was 14, starry-eyed and thrilled to have met the one person who changed my view of music. There was no such thing as social media or smartphones. I even brought a disposable Kodak camera to capture the special moment. Cut to present day, and after a decade-long war with her previous label, the singer finally released the album we have been waiting for, Hopeless Romantic.
Branch played to a sold out crowd at Webster Hall’s Marlin Room in NYC Friday night for a special album release show and needless to say, the excitement in the room was palpable…or maybe that was the ceiling almost caving in due to the show upstairs. Either way, there was never a dull moment.
Taking the stage with drummer, producer and boyfriend Patrick Carney, Gus Seyffert, Bobby Emmett, Ashley Wilcoxson and Jake Blanton, Hopeless Romantic was brought to life along with some of those old early 00’s favorites fans have been dying to hear. Starting off her hour long set with “Breathe,” it was 2003 all over again – but don’t be fooled! There are some pretty interesting new arrangements made to the classics and they’re by far the best we’ve ever heard them live!
Current single, “Best You Ever,” was just as empowering & gritty as I imagined while title track, “Hopeless Romantic,” was all sorts of dreamy as pink and blue lights set the singer alight. This is the best we’ve ever seen her and the happiness was just radiating off of her as she thanked the crowd continuously for their support.
Personal album favorite, “Heartbreak Now,” was everything I hoped it would be while scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs anthem, “Are You Happy Now?,” riled everyone up; the energy captured for the singer’s upcoming summer tour, for sure! Once the encore of “Everywhere” and new track, “City,” came into play, it was hard to imagine how fast time flies and how one minute you’re 14, discovering an album that could change your life while the next you’re 28 & hearing those same songs played back to you live. Life is surreal sometimes.
After spending years as one of music’s most beloved underdogs, Branch now has the world in the palm of her hands. It’s about damn time. One thing is for sure: underdogs always hold the power. Always have, always will. It just takes us a while to find our bearings.