Tag Archives: Concerts

Concert Review: Wilco and Avett Bros @ Camden Water Front

( @wilco, @theavettbros )

Opening Act: Dr. Dog
Venue: Susquehanna Bank Center – Camden, NJ
Date: Saturday, July 21st, 2012

NOTE: I didn’t take any pictures of video because it just seems kind of stupid to take crappy grainy pictures or poor quality audio. So I will post some quality videos I find on the net so you get the idea.

[Dr. Dog]

Website: DrDogMusic.com

Dr. Dog is a Philadelphia based band that I got turned on to a few years ago. I thought they were good band but honestly never really gave their albums much thought after that first spin. That was a mistake. This band thrives playing on stage. Their material totally popped in the live setting – it was dynamic and LOUD (my chest was thumping during the entire set). I was impressed with their set, but I do wish they could have stepped up the on-stage banter for their hometown audience (but I suspect they had extremely limited time on stage with the other acts).

[The Avett Brothers]

Website: TheAvettBrothers.com

Frequent readers of this blog know that I am a huge fan of The Avett Brothers. These guys have been touring non-stop for the last few years and are still pumping out excellent material. The band’s live shows are what makes them special: they have a excellent work ethic and they bust their asses on stage. This was the fifth time I have seen the band and they still exceed my expectations (they are not resting on their success).

The band played for about 90 minutes and they were bouncing around the entire time. I am not going to run down the entire set list, but they hit all of the fan favorites with a nice mix of all of their albums. They closed the set with “Kick Drum Heart” but did an epic southern rock style jam at the end which was an interesting (and welcome) new element to their live show.

I honestly feel that The Avett Brothers are the best live act in the country right now. Go see them if you have the chance.

Previous Avett Brother Reviews:

[Wilco]

Website: WilcoWorld.net

It took about 40 minutes for the stage crew to move the Avett’s equipment and set up Wilco’s stage. They had these pieces of fabric hanging down in long knots (like 20-30 foot lengths) – they were on the stage the entire night and I was wondering what they were for. Turns out the band had images projected on the ropes for a very cool effect during their set.

Jeff Tweedy was not in a mellow mood, the band came out on the stage ready to singe faces. The first 6 songs were very loud. I honestly don’t know what the opening song was – wait checking the internet – “Art of Almost” – I am not sure if there was an actual melody to that tune, just sound. Hell of a way to wake up the audience. I appreciated the rocked out/artistic set because it was an excellent contrast to the Avetts.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay the entire concert because we had a baby to go home to (this was our first time leaving him with a sitter). Fun Side Note: There was a couple that brought their two young children to the show sitting right in front of us, they made it half-way through the Avett’s set before they left. Note to self: Resist the temptation to take son to concert until he is potty trained. We cut out during “Hate It Here” which was sad, but I appreciate the band coming to the Philadelphia area and putting a damn fine effort on stage.

Previous Wilco Reviews:

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Concert Review: Ryan Adams @ The Academy of Music (Philadelphia)

( @TheRyanAdams, #Philadelphia )

Image Credit: Ryan Adams

Opening Act: Jessica Lea Mayfield
Date: Saturday, December 2nd, 2011
Location: Academy of Music – Philadelphia, Pa

This is the second time I have seen Mr. Adams this year. My wife and I took a trip to California two months ago when it was unclear if Ryan was going to do a tour of the East Coast, not that I am complaining, any excuse to go to California is a good one. You can check my review of the California show right here.

When I found out that Ryan was playing the Academy, I was excited. It is a place that lends itself to good concert behavior and the acoustics are fantastic. Just to get it out of the way, everything about the venue was great last night and I am always glad to see a show there.

[Opening Act: Jessica Lea Mayfield]

My friend Jack commented on how great her guitar sounded last night (really good tone). I wanted to make sure that I started off with a compliment before I got into any kind of critique. I don’t want to be overly harsh, but Mayfield’s songs all sounded similar and had a similar theme which took away from the performance (until the last song where she mixed it up a bit with little yip).

Mayfield has a nice voice and certainly wasn’t intimidated by the Philadelphia crowd, but she would do herself a service by introducing faster tempo songs about anything other than bad boyfriends, I really think she would shine with a band or at least another person on stage to banter with.

[Main Event]

Ryan came out and went right to business. The Philadelphia crowd was much more vocal than the California audience (no shock there), but at least my wife and I were not sitting in front of a group of drunk girls. Ryan definitely mixed up the set list between shows (yes, he did play “Come Pick Me Up”, now we can all shut up about it).

He knocked out excellent renditions of “Sylvia Plath”, “Dear Chicago” and “English Girls Approximately”, but the whole show was outstanding and (not to repeat myself) a love note to the fans. I thought his banter in California was great, but he turned it up a notch in Philadelphia. Adams went on this whole riff about Ghost Hunters when his guitars went out of tune and then connected it into making fun of loud audience members (you know there is always that one dude who has to be heard).
Adams left the stage and quickly came back out for an encore. He was going to play another 30 minutes but his main set went long and the teamsters shut him down. He managed to knock out a surprisingly earnest rendition of Ratt’s “Round and Round”.

Another fantastic show by one of the best song writers in the business.

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Concert Review: The Jayhawks @ The Keswick Theater (Glenside, Pa)

( #TheJayhawks )

Opening Act: Tift Merritt
Date: Saturday, October 22nd, 2011
Location: Keswick Theater – Glenside, Pa

The Jayhawks are one of those bands that most people might not know well, but have probably heard a few of their tunes. Musicians like them because they are a band that focuses on harmony and they do it very well. Over the years, I really appreciate what Gary Louris has done with the band after Mark Olson’s departure, but it was a treat to see “classic” line-up…

[Opening Act: Tift Merritt]

Tift Merritt played a short and sweet set, which is considerate of any opening act. I had no prior knowledge of Merritt prior to the concert, so I listened with no expectations. Tift has a strong singing voice that reminded me of Sheryl Crow (that salt and honey sound). She was backed by two solid musicians, one that played pedal steel most of the set. Outside of the natural talent of the whole band, the set fell flat due to material. Most of the songs were downer relationship cliches that put the audience to sleep. The efforts of the pedal steel player gave the tunes a needed brightness, but not enough to keep me interested.

Bottom Line: Tift Merritt has talent and a good ear for musicians but would do well with brighter, faster paced songs that varied from the standard topics of old boyfriends.

[Main Event: The Jayhawks]

The first half of the Jayhawk’s set on Saturday night was sloppy. Somebody was really out of tune the first three songs and the harmonies that I was looking forward too took a while to sync up. That being said, when the band got their shit together, they were very good.

The band did a nice job mixing up older Olson tunes in with Louris’ material after Mark left. The crowd went nuts for “Miss Williams’ Guitar” which produced several whispers stating “they didn’t expect the band to play that song”. A nice surprise was a song sung by the drummer who had a great voice and got the crowd pumped. There was not much banter with the (very animated) crowd and any attempts to do so seemed… confused. Olson kept referencing the fact that they were playing the Keswick Theater and alluded to some history with the stage, but they didn’t let the newbies know what it was (if any reader knows, feel free to share). My buddy assured me that weed most likely played into the equation…whatever gets you through the night.

The band came out for a quick encore and called it a night. In total, they played about 90 minutes. As I mentioned before, once the band was on stage for about a half hour, they started to gel and play much better, but it looked like Louris was a little pissed off until the encore and Olson looked a little out of it.

Bottom Line: Overall, it was a good concert, not great, but definitely good.

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Concert Review: Ryan Adams @ The Uptown Theater (Napa, Ca)

( @theRyanAdams, #Napa, @JasonIsbell )

Opening Act: Jason Isbell
Date: Saturday, October 15th, 2011
Location: Uptown Theater – Napa, Ca

When Ryan Adams announced he was taking a break a few years ago I really wondered if he was going to play live again. Articles about Meniere’s disease and burn out made it seem like it could be a long time before a tour would be a reality. In the spring, Ryan announced select dates in Europe and I started putting away some money for a trip to California (Europe was too expensive, and I figured he might do a few dates near his home), he surprised many with a full blown tour. Long story short: I get to see him twice this year, as you can see in this review, I have no complaints.

[Opening Act: Jason Isbell]

Normally, I do a little research on opening acts, but I have been so busy with work that I completely forgot to do it. When Jason Isbell walked on stage and announced he was Muscle Shoals, Alabama I whispered to my wife “I wonder if he is in The Drive By Truckers” thanks to an piece I heard about them on NPR. He quickly confirmed my suspicions.

Isbell was sublime. I am so glad that I didn’t know much about him or his material because I had a chance to absorb his performance without any expectations. He is an outstanding guitar player and singer. Isbell has a natural way of bantering with the audience that comes from experience. Jason did a song that was based on a conversation with his dad that really sent a shiver up my spine. I can’t wait to get home and track down this guy’s back catalog because he is such a good songwriter.

[The Main Event: Ryan Adams]

Ryan Adams was excellent in every way last night. Since the venue held under 1,000 people and the show was billed as an acoustic performance, it was a very intimate. The one thing that stood out to me (after having gone to several Ryan Adams concerts) – is just how good his voice sounded. Ryan’s ability to convey emotion through his voice is often overlooked in favor of his prolific songwriting, but his voice might be the greatest weapon in his arsenal.

This was most definitely a thank you show to the fans. He played the perfect mix of “greatest hits”, new tunes, and fan favorites. Since he was solo, he tweaked several songs to make up for the lack of a band. The subtle changes were welcome and kept me listening for the changes. Ryan did a really nice solo at the end of “I see Monsters” that was new but fit perfectly. I am not going to rattle off every tune Adams played, but I am happy to have witnessed live performances of “Winding Wheel” and his piano version of “New York, New York” (they were awesome).

Ryan bantered with the crowd throughout the show. There was no tension. A few people in the crowd shouted out requests, but Ryan took it in stride and moved on with his set list. He broke out several improvised songs about people moving around going to the bathroom (it was funny, he kept asking them to come back, “Its not 2004!”). And the end of the main set, Adams soaked in the applause of the crowd. I have been to several Ryan Adams concerts in the past where he ran off the stage at the end of the show, it was nice to say thank you properly this time.

Ryan came back out and did a few tunes with Jason Isbell. He ended the show with an old Whiskeytown song “Jacksonville Skyline” – it was a fitting and satisfying ending to a memorable performance.. This show was a mutual love note between Ryan and the crowd and I am really glad I had a chance to witness it.

[The Curse]

I can’t do a concert review without sharing crowd experiences. I thought I was going to break the curse last night and not have any issues with an audience member because this was a fan oriented show. Wrong. There were four girls in front of us that talked THE ENTIRE TIME. At first the main offender was trying to keep it low, so it was easy to ignore her, but as the night progressed they all got sloppy drunk. She had to sing every song. She was told several times to quiet down, but as they got drunker she just laughed. Did I want to push her down the steps at the end of the night? I can’t say (yes). Oh well – at least she knew the words…

UPDATE:
Ryan posted this clip from the show on his facebook page

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Concert Review: Bright Eyes @ The MANN (Philadelphia, Pa)

Opening Act(s): Dawes, M. Ward
Date: Friday, June 10th, 2011
Location: MANN Music Center, Philadelphia, Pa
Website: Bright Eyes

[Venue]

I am always happy to see a concert at the MANN. The acoustics are excellent, the setting is clean and interesting, and it isn’t a hassle to get there. I purchased balcony seats for the concert—I didn’t even know the MANN had a balcony (even as we walked in), the architecture hides it really well, which is pretty cool. Once we got up there, I was in love. The sections were small with only two seat rows—so I did not have to sit next to annoying people. The people in my section were quiet and respectful all night, very good crowd. My only complaint was the heat and there wasn’t much that could be done for that.

[Opening Acts]

Act #1: Dawes

I never heard of Dawes before this show, so as they started their set with a slower song, I was quick to dismiss them and pull out my smart phone. But I started hearing the guitar player (and singer) start to toss in these interesting transitions and that got my attention. As their set continued, they built up the pace and I started to get impressed. The guitarist has a lot of talent and the entire band has a good sound dynamic (and sensibilities). I really liked their set and I want to hear more from them.

Act #2: M. Ward

M. Ward came out a few minutes after Dawes. Ward is a frequent collaborator of Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes, Monsters of Folk) and is probably known for his band “She and Him” with Zooey Deschanel. He immediately started into an instrumental piece which was upbeat and established his talent on the guitar. The next 30 minutes were very slow, sad songs that all built off a similar minor chord base and strum pattern. In a small, air-conditioned club this would be something that I could absorb, but in the heat, it just put me to sleep. At the end of the set, he invited Dawes out to back him and it sounded really good. I wish he brought a band with him for the whole set.

[Bright Eyes]

I did not expect a rock concert from Conor Oberst and Bright Eyes. Perhaps a few rocked out tunes mixed into a largely acoustic set, but the opposite happened. Oberst came out with firsts swinging leaning heavily on material from his new album and it was… awesome. Instead of putting the crowd to sleep like Ward before him, the band was LOUD. There were two drummers, two keyboard players, a guitarist (not Oberst), and a bass player – this group commanded attention.

All of the songs sounded fleshed out. After the first four, the band settled back into a mini-acoustic set where Conor played familiar tunes like “Four Winds” and “Lua” and then brought the band back out to fire up the crowd again. The tempo felt very intentional which alludes a control over the crowd reactions that is impressive.

I really enjoyed the concert: great crowd, great venue, great seats. I am continually impressed by Oberst’s versatility (acoustic, rock, electronica, and country). Oberst has been called the new Dylan too many times to count, but I think might have a new title to content with: Rock Star.

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Concert Review: The Avett Brothers @ The Ryman Theater (Nashville, TN)

( #Avett, #GracePotter, @dookiefinger, #Ryman )

Opening Act: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
Date: Saturday, October 30th, 2010
Location: The Ryman Theater – Nashville, TN
Band Website: The Avett Brothers

[Nashville]

My wife, a few friends and I decided to take a weekend trip to Nashville to see the Avett Brothers and enjoy the “City of Music.” Fall in Nashville was excellent: the weather was mild, the downtown area was decorated for Halloween, and there was a palpable excitement in the air. I will get to a recap of our adventures in Nashville in the next few days, but I wanted to share this concert experience first.

[Grace Potter and the Nocturnals]

When we sat down in our excellent center-stage seats, I started chatting with the costumed college kids in front of me. They had been to the show the night before and I asked them if there was an opening act, they said Grace Potter. I had heard of her, but did not know any of the material. The college kid said she was average the night before and I guess he must have been smoking some of the good stuff because…

Grace Potter was fantastic. This woman can sing her ass off, she knows how to put on a show, and she surrounds herself with excellent musicians. Her two guitars players were really good in that understated-but-know-when-to-turn it up kind of way (very similar to Sheryl Crow’s long time guitarist) and her bass player is one of my all time music crushes Catherine Popper. I wish I had caught this band when they were in Philadelphia a few weeks ago, but they are totally on my radar now.

My friend (who doesn’t follow any music not on the mainstream country stations) started screaming like a little girl when Potter invited country musician Kenny Chesney on stage. Chesney managed to bother me by standing in front of Popper, but sounded at home on the Ryman stage. Potter and the band finished their set and the curtains closed in preparation for the main event.

[The Avett Brothers]

When the curtains re-opened 30 minutes later, the stage was decorated for Halloween. The entire band came on stage dressed as mummies (and remained in costume the entire 2 hour show) and proceeded to entertain the crowd in their typical high-energy fashion.

While the band played well, it was really hard to hear over the audience singing along. Having long heard of the Ryman’s excellent acoustics, I was disappointed I couldn’t experience it for myself (I think it amplified the crowd instead of the band). The Avetts played several crowd favorites (but not many of their singles). The personal highlight of the night was the solo performance of “Murdered in the City” because the crowd went silent and I got to really hear the song.

Being their last show until New Years Eve, the Avetts really went for broke. Costumes aside, you could tell that the whole band was really happy to be playing (and then taking a break). Cellist Joe Kwon seemed to be soaking in the crowd as he left the stage before the encore.

This would not be an Ordered Chaos concert review without a little crowd report. Overall, the crowd was super cool and respectful. It was a nice mix of younger and older fans and everyone seemed to be mindful of each other… except the kid sitting next to me. The Ryman has these wonderful church benches to sit on (which of course nobody used), but it served the purpose of breaking up the crowd and providing personal space. This kid next to me kept getting closer and closer, crossing over the divider and bumping into me. As I learned to accept that, he started doing this wide clapping thing, almost elbowing me in the face at least a half-dozen times. I shot him a few dirty looks, but he did not get the hint. Eventually my friends left early and I got the personal space I craved.

Overall, it was a great show in a wonderful city and venue. I kinda wanted to see if I could get Catherine Popper’s autograph after the show (she was a part of my favorite album of all time), but a.) I had no idea how to do it and b.) I didn’t want to be that creepy fucker bothering a musician after a show – besides, my wife and I had to pack for the flight home.

Until the next show…

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Phillyist: Guster Review

( #Guster, #Philadelphia, #ElectricFactory )

Phillyist published my review of Guster’s performance last Friday at the Electric Factory, you can read it **here**

Some interesting background stories:

1. There were three younger people (just barely drinking age) that were totally rude and pissing off everyone in my area. Guster crowds are usually pretty chill, but these two boys and their gal pal were “white people dancing“, not giving a shit who they bumped into, and by the middle of the show were acting the songs out with their hands. People were leaving the nice spot we were in just to get away from them. The taller kid must have messed up 20 shots for me by throwing up his hands in Guster-ecstasy. Also, the girl had the most intense crazy-eyes I have ever seen – she didn’t blink.

I tried to take video of her, but it didn’t turn out so well.

2. My favorite security guard was on duty, but we didn’t stay in his area. He would have destroyed the “Trio of Assholes”

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Concert Review: Chris Isaak @ Longwood Gardens (Philadelphia Area)

( #ChrisIsaak, #LongwoodGardens, #ConcertReview )

Opening Act: Marc Broussard
Main Event: Chris Isaak
Location: Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pa (Philadelphia Area)
Date: Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

[Venue]

I have never been to Longwood Gardens before and wasn’t sure what to expect in regards to a rock and roll show; I discovered Longwood Gardens is a great place to see a concert. The grounds are beautiful, the staff is really nice, and there wasn’t a bad seat in the house (or botanical garden in this case). The concert stage was situated right in front of a big fountain which added a nice backdrop to the show.

[Opening Act]

My friends were very happy that Marc Broussard was listed as the opening act, so that amped up my expectations of this singer. Sadly, instead of the rough and rowdy blues act (that my friends had witnessed a few years ago), Marc focused on generic ballads (yawn).

The last song was a swampy blues number which was absolutely the best of the set. It’s a shame Broussard decided to leave his nuts backstage, because the guy is talented and has a great band, just lame material this time around.

[Chris Isaak]

Chris Isaak put on a fucking show tonight. The weather was hot and sticky, but that didn’t slow down this seasoned performer. Isaak walked on stage with a neon pink sequined jump suit: that’s hell of a statement to make in this heat.

The backing band was fantastic. All of these guys can play well and fill out the sound on the stage. Music aside, they all seem to have a really good time playing to the crowd and goofing around. Chris leaned on the whole band to to dance, shake, act as a 60’s soul back-up singers, and an “olde-time” church revival… let’s just say these cats were versitile.

Isaak immediately won the crowd over with his banter and high energy. He showed no fear in knocking out his trademark high notes several times per song. All of his popular tunes sounded note perfect (“Somebody’s Crying”, “Wicked Game”, “Forever Blue”, “Bad Bad Thing”). My favorite line of the night is when he remarked on the heat by saying “I am sweating more than a whore in church.” Damn right.

For the encore, Isaak decided to take his sweating up a notch by donning a mirrored suit (it had to weigh at least 30-40 lbs). He last few tunes were very high energy including a great rendition of the Roy Orbison classic “Pretty Woman” (he sounded exactly like Orbison). A fantastic show by a great performer; other musicians should go see Isaak and take notes – this is how you do rock and roll baby!

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Concert Review: Jack Johnson @ Camden Entertainment Center

( #JackJohnson, #Philadelphia, #Camden )

Main Event: Jack Johnson
Opening Act: G Love
Date: Sunday, July 11th 2010
Location: Camden, NJ (Susquehanna Bank Center)

[Opening Act]

I can’t say one thing about G Love because I completely missed his performance. My wife and I left our house at 6:00 PM for the 7:00 PM show (we live about 20 minutes from Camden). Everything was smooth until we got about 1/3 of mile to the Camden Entertainment Complex exit (5A); we were stuck there for the next 100 minutes. It took another 20 minutes to get forced into a $25 parking lot.

As you could imagine I was pretty pissed off getting into the concert, but thankfully I didn’t have to wait in line to get into the show.

[Main Event]

I have never seen the Camden Entertainment Complex (it’s called the Susquehanna bank center but this place changes names every 18 months, so screw it) so packed. The lawn area was an absolute sea of people (this show was definitely oversold). There was no room to put down blankets. This was one massive standing room only concert. In addition to the crowds, the PA for the lawn area was underpowered. You could hear the music, but not well (you don’t normally read me complaining a concert was too low).

Overall, Johnson sounded really good (like he always does). He put on an earnest yet laid back show. G Love came out to jam on a few songs (I was glad I got to see him play). Jack’s band was very good tonight; especially his multi-instrumentalist (mainly keyboard instruments). I don’t know the guy’s name, but he made slower songs like “Banana Pancakes” pop.

To be honest, we cut out at 11 PM because we were terrified of getting stuck for another two hours in Camden and it was so tight on the lawn that you couldn’t scratch your eye without elbowing somebody in the back. While I am a little annoyed at the concert conditions, Johnson is donating all profits from the tour to charity, so I felt good about my money going to good causes.

I keep saying it, but I really do think I am done with the big concert venue shows and any kind of open seating situation: they are expensive, the sound is usually not great, and there are ALWAYS a small group (or pockets) of people that ruin the show for everyone else.

Here’s hoping Johnson does a winter tour in small venues!

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Concert Review: Justin Currie @ The Tin Angel (Philadelphia, Pa)

Artist: Justin Currie (of Del Amitri)
Opening Act: Graham Colton
Location: The Tin Angel – Philadelphia, Pa
Date: Saturday, June 19th, 2010

[Venue]
The Tin Angel
20 South 2nd Street
Philadelphia, PA

The Tin Angel is a great place to see a musician. It’s small and intimate, so if you happen see a show with “popular act”, you are in for a real treat. There is a restaurant downstairs that is great, so it’s a good night out if you can snag a table.

[Opening Act: Graham Colton]
As we walked into the Tin Angel, my wife and I (unknowingly) had a brief, pleasant exchange with Graham Colton. He was quite polite and friendly (and I am sure the ladies will find him good looking). Colton’s music is easy on the ears; a respectable singer with a good sense of rhythm on the guitar. His singer-songwriter style leans towards poppy love songs; since he seems like such a genuinely nice guy, the music doesn’t come off as douchy.

Colton’s last song of his 30 minute set (which was about the death of a friend – I didn’t catch the name) was his most emotionally mature. I want to recommend Graham Colton to you, but I suspect if you have a penis the music won’t do much for you. With that said, Graham is the kind of guy that a college girl would love to take home and get the bed sheets dirty and not feel all shamed up about it the next day (just don’t mention his wife Helen).

Website: Graham Colton

[Main Event: Justin Currie]
Let me just get this out of the way: Justin Currie sounded incredible. Years of the rock star lifestyle has done nothing to damage or degrade his voice, if anything, it has improved with age. Currie was accompanied by a keyboard/accordion player named Pete and it looks like the two have been playing together for a while. The set list consisted of a nice blend of Del Amitri classics and his newer solo material. Currie took a significant amount of requests from the crowd including one from me “Don’t I look like the kind of guy you used to hate.” He forgot half the song since it was an obscure b-side, but seemed impressed someone in the US knew about it.

Currie changed up some classic Del Amitri tunes like “Not Where it’s at” since the band wasn’t backing him – the changes seemed natural and sounded excellent. Justin’s newer tunes seemed to utilize a milder version the “Neil Finn Solo Album” technique – having weird little electronic noises under the acoustic guitar – it worked well to fill out the sound without a full band. Since Currie took so many requests, the tempo of the show dragged a bit in the middle (most people requested slower songs), but like a pro he knew when to pick it back up. The show ended around 10:00 PM as Justin was asked to wrap it up for another act starting at 10:30 (nobody I ever heard of).

Justin Currie is one of the premire, yet overlooked (in the US) songwriters of the last 20 years and it was a real pleasure to be able to see him perform in an intimate venue. Tonight is his last tour date and it is in Washington, DC. If you are in the area, I highly recommend catching the show.

You can purchase Justin Currie’s “The Great War” at Amazon

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