Natalie Merchant at The Masonic, by Jon BauerNatalie Merchant (photo: Jon Bauer)

Natalie Merchant played a selection of pieces from her extensive 10 album solo work mixed with her hits from her 10,000 Maniacs days at the Masonic on Thursday, July 20, 2017. The first half of the set featured songs that were slow and a bit somber, while the second half was much more upbeat, where the band really loosened up. Merchant spoke about how she spent the day strolling and shopping in “cold” San Francisco, where she randomly bought a ceramic cat sculpture that she merrily gave to a late attendee and told him, “We waited for you and held out for as long as we could!”

Natalie seemed to really have a great time singing her more contemporary songs and gleefully remembering her days in the ’80s playing with the Maniacs at the Fillmore. Her voice was as velvety smooth and as powerful as everyone remembered, accentuated by a string quartet, guitarist, percussionist, and pianist. Everyone was terrific — she sang a few duets with the guitarist, Gabriel Gordon — which was a luxurious surprise.