Lisa Fischer at Space in Evanston, IL

Lisa Fischer, accompanied by the South Carolina quintet Ranky Tanky, performed two shows in one night at Evanston’s premier music venue, Space.

As soon as Lisa Fischer announces she is coming to town, there is always a mad scramble to secure tickets. Once you’ve seen her perform live, you’d undoubtedly join the hoards clambering to get your seat the next time she comes to town. Even though she put on two shows in one night at Space, it still wasn’t enough. Some people were so desperate to see her perform again that they bought tickets to both sittings. 

These shows were billed as Lisa Fischer (of 20 Feet from Stardom), but this title does her an injustice. She is known for so much more than this documentary. Don’t get us wrong, it is a fantastic, must-see documentary that delivers great insight into the work of backup singers. Lisa is recognizable to many for her time as the powerhouse backing vocalist for The Rolling Stones. For four decades, she has been a backup singer for the likes of Sting, Luther Vandross, Tina Turner, and Nine Inch Nails. On top of this, she has pursued her own solo career. With a voice like hers, it’s no wonder the world’s biggest artists wanted her on stage with them. 

There are some artists that bring a certain magic to their live performances that engage you in a way that is far beyond just listening to a record. Lisa Fischer is definitely one of these artists. Her voice alone demands your full and undivided attention. You can see it in the faces of the packed-out audiences, as every eye in the venue is transfixed by her incredible, yet effortless-looking performance. The range of her voice is quite frankly unbelievable. Add to that the control, the power, the delicateness, and the crystalline clarity, and you truly have a one-in-a-million performer on your hands. Whilst you might come across a singer with some of these attributes, to find one  who has all of them in abundance is something unique and special. 

Lisa’s band on this tour is Ranky Tanky, and from the moment they came onto the Space stage, it was clear to see they were a great match. The additional vocals from Quiana Parler really add to the experience, giving you two amazing singers for the price of one. MC, trumpet player, and singer Charlton Singleton kept the night moving along with great anecdotes including a couple of mentions for the band’s recent well-earned Grammy win.

In respect of the rest of the band, it is fair to say that you will never witness a tambourine solo like the one performed by percussionist, Quentin Baxter who locked in with the fantastic Kevin Hamilton on bass throughout the night. Guitarist Clay Ross was also a joy to watch perform with his smooth melodic lines front and center in the band’s original compositions and perfectly complementing the covers that they performed. The Grammy Award-winning quintet each had their own moments to shine throughout the evening, taking their moment in the spotlight for a solo, and performing a number of  their own songs. Judging by the reaction from the crowd, and the number of audience members who flocked to chat to guitarist Clay Ross after the show was a strong indicator of how many followers they have and how many new ones they will have gained from this show alone. 

It’s impressive to watch absolutely top-level artists give 110% every evening when they are performing shows night after night. What was even more impressive in this case is that an hour or so after this performance, Lisa Fischer and Ranky Tanky would be stepping out onto the same stage to play to a new audience. There is no doubt in our minds that they will have delivered the same level of passion and enthusiasm that had the first sitting on their feet in appreciation.

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About Kirstine Walton 383 Articles
Kirstine moved from the UK to Chicago in 2011, and has fallen in love with the city and its music scene. She enjoys combining her two biggest passions – music and photography. If there is a band with a guitar playing, chances are she’ll be there…camera in hand. Kirstine went to her first live concert at 7 years old, and hasn’t looked back since!