Show Review: Mark Eitzel at Expensify

Yes, the singer of pained and passionate torch songs performed at the headquarters of a software company.

Mark Eitzel (Mark Eitzel Website)

The first time I saw Mark Eitzel perform live, he was serving as opening act for British pop duo Everything but the Girl. His set of pained and passionate torch songs was gorgeous, but it fell on the deaf ears of the thousands of folks lounging on the grass at the outdoor amphitheater.

The setting for my most recent encounter with Eitzel was far more unusual—the luxe lobby of software company Expensify’s headquarters on Southwest 5th Avenue—but the crowd was much more amenable, hanging on his every word like true acolytes.

The genius of these “living room”-style shows that Eitzel has been doing for the past few years isn’t hard to grasp. He gets to play to folks who actually want to hear him, and his fans get to experience his music in a much more intimate setting than a nightclub or a massive shed. It also allowed Eitzel to get good and loose in his performance. (The red wine he had nearby surely helped.)

He introduced each song breathlessly, regaling us with stories of the broken souls and tender moments that inspired each one. We were told of the gay stripper with a stuffed animal attached to his jockstrap that inspired “Patriot’s Heart” and about the lovely scene of a dad shooting off fireworks for his son against the backdrop of a sunset that turned into “Western Sky.” He got playfully catty with the audience’s interjections and enthusiasm.

Eitzel also poured every last ounce of himself into material that was, in some cases, around 35 years old. Every syllable he sang seemed to come from some deep place within his slender frame, resulting in slight contortions of his body and vocals that boomed around the marble interior of the former bank with operatic volume and zeal.

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