Tuesday, October 14th, 2003
The Jayhawks/Lucinda Williams show tonight was my first time at Massey Hall for a non-Icelandic space-rock band. I was especially excited about the Jayhawks, having been a fan for a good long time but never gotten to see them live, and that’s a damn shame because they were amazing. A lot of old-school fans abandoned the band after Mark Olson left, but after hearing drummer Tim O’Reagan cover the harmonies on the older material as well as lead vocals on his own songs, I’ll play the role of blasphemer and say the Jayhawks are just as strong a band as when Olson was in the band. Seriously, O’Reagan was a revelation – I didn’t realize he was behind a number of my favorite Jayhawks tunes. That’ll teach me to read liner notes. A pity they only played for 45 minutes – from the response they got from the audience, I’d say it’s a safe bet that they could headline a very successful show of their own in this town. Right after their set, the merch table was nearly sold out of their CDs. And Gary Louris is a very tall man.
Lucinda Williams and band had a tough act to follow, and I can’t say they were entirely up to the task. They started the show with Lucinda on her own with acoustic guitar doing “Passionate Kisses”, which may have seemed like a good idea, but they either didn’t have the PA adjusted properly yet, or her voice wasn’t warmed up, or more likely both, because it sounded over-loud and harsh – certainly not the treatment the song deserved. It got better after her band joined her and they played a few more numbers, but still not the best first impression. The band was ultra-relaxed onstage, almost to the point of it working against them as there were extended gaps of silence between songs as they sorted something or other out, Lucinda chatted with the crowd in her slow Texan drawl or leafed through her lyric book for the words to the next number. Things were terrific when they started playing – these guys were pros, no mistake about it – but the pacing of the affair could have been better. The peak of the show came when Louris joined them onstage for “Essence”, first to do harmonies and then to take over guitar duties from Lucinda. For the encore, they acquiesed to do some requests, first with “Blue” and then “Sweet Side”. I questioned their decision to close with “American Dream”, which in my opinion is one of the weakest songs off the new album and an anti-climactic way to end off the show. Overall, a pretty solid show with disappointing bookends, but when Lucinda had the country-blues-soul mojo working, it was terrific.
The Washington Post talks to Beulah about the long road to Yoko and where they go from here.
Coming as no surprise to anyone, Wheat’s Per Second Per Second Per Second Every Second has been pushed back another week to November 4, due to “some delays finalizing the artwork”. This artwork, here. The Aware store has it for preorder now. Bah, humbug.
Slightly more cheerful news – volume 3 of the Amos House benefit albums finally has a street date – November 18. A stellar lineup on this one, including Wilco, Spoon, Elf Power and Wheat. You can preorder from Wishing Tree Records starting Wednesday.
np – The Jayhawks / Rainy Day Music