After a recent performance on the Late Show With David Letterman, the iconic nighttime TV host summed up Shovels & Rope in one word: delightful. We would add to that much-earned accolade: hypnotizing, one-of-a-kind, unforgettable ... and essential.

That last word of praise may seem strange, but after seeing the husband-and-wife duo at New York City's gorgeous Appel Room last night (Feb. 26), it's the word that keeps creeping into our thoughts. Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst are essential to the future of music -- their attitude, their onstage behavior and their vehement approach to their unique craft.

In a world where new music is constantly permeating from every crevice of our digital lives, Shovels & Rope are doing everything they can to fight their way through the noise; with the ferocious DIY ethos of early White Stripes, the songwriting adeptness reminiscent of the Great Folk Scare and the incorruptible honesty of Johnny Cash, Trent and Hearst's sincerity and candor shine bright in their songs -- and during their live show.

With flat-out rockers -- "Coping Mechanism," "Tickin' Bomb" and the outrageously good "Hail Hail" -- and more somber numbers -- "Magdalena" and "After the Storm" -- Shovels & Rope covered the spectrum last night in the span of just 90 minutes. At times old-school country, at other times raw blues -- and all the time pure rock and roll -- the South Carolina pair flowed effortlessly from song to song, all with candid chats in-between.

Adding to their hypnotic performance was the setting: The Appel Room is on the fifth floor of Time Warner Center, sitting high above Columbus Circle and Central Park with a clear view staring down 59th Street (thanks to the massive floor-to-ceiling windows). While Shovels & Rope may be more used to playing venues where the crowd is standing, swilling beers and chatting throughout the night, they seemed right at home in this elegant setting.

It really doesn't matter, though: This is a band that stands tall in any environment. Shovels & Rope are on the road throughout the spring -- do whatever it takes to catch them live when they come close to your hometown ... it's essential that you do.

Shovels & Rope -- Setlist, Feb. 26, 2015
"1,200 Miles"
"Coping Mechanism"
"Tickin' Bomb"
"Bridge on Fire"
"The Devil Is All Around"
"Swimmin' Time"
"O' Be Joyful"
"Stono River Blues"
"Save the World"
"After the Storm"
"Mary Ann & One Eyed Dan"
"Hail Hail"

"Bad Luck"

Watch Shovels & Rope Perform "Hail Hail"

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