Vanessa Carlton Brings 'Balance' to L.A. Concert With Early Hit & Newer Gems

Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic
Vanessa Carlton performs at The Sayers Club on Sept. 15, 2015 in Hollywood, Calif.  

Vanessa Carlton walked onstage at The Largo in L.A. on Thursday evening wearing an all-white outfit and carrying a glass of red wine. She set the glass down as she sat in front of the piano and pulled out a water bottle.

“Water on my left, wine on my right,” she joked with the crowd. “That’s how we’ve achieved balance on this tour.”

Carlton then launched into her biggest hit yet -- 2001's "A Thousand Miles," which peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 -- explaining that she and violinist Skye Steele like to play the song first to get any expectations out of the way so fans can focus on newer music. “Let’s let the elephant out of the room so we can let other animals in,” she said.

Above the stage hung a large oil painting featuring three nude women, which Carlton said was painted by her late grandfather and used to hang above her grandmother’s bed before the artist took it on tour with her as an homage to the man whose last name inspired her fifth album, Liberman, released on Dine Alone Records in 2015.

Carlton showed off her musical chops throughout the night by alternating between singing and playing the piano.

In addition to “A Thousand Miles,” Carlton sang “I Don’t Want to Be a Bride,” “Willows” and “River,” which she said she often sings to get her 2-year-old daughter Sidney to stop crying.

Carlton explained that her song “Fairweather Friend” was inspired by a relationship from her 20s. “If they tell you they’re flying to one city and end up in a different city -- red flag,” the 36-year-old singer warned the crowd.

The singer/songwriter wrapped up the show by bringing out her opener, Tristen, to sing a duet version of Janis Joplin’s “Mercedez Benz.”