The Low Anthem & The Avett Brothers at the House of Blues in Cleveland, OH, 2.27.10

The Low Anthem Setlist
(in no particular order and incomplete)

Cage the Songbird
Don’t Let Nobody Turn You Around
Apothecary
To the Ghosts Who Write History Books
This God Damn House
The Horizon is a Beltway
Don’t Let Nobody Turn You ‘Round
Cigarettes and Whiskey and Wild, Wild Women

I’ll admit upfront that I have probably been spoiled by seeing some of the best acts around perform in hole-in-the-wall bars – from the Afghan Whigs at the Cactus Club in San Jose, California, to A.A. Bondy at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, Michigan – and this probably colors my view of the larger venues, but… I hate the House of Blues. It is partially the odd and claustrophobic layout of the venue and partially the disposition of the clientele. (It doesn’t help that I top out at 5’3″ and since I didn’t get to the sold-out show early enough to be close to the stage, I felt disconnected as I stood behind a wall of people a full head taller than me, affording me only a few glances of certain areas of the stage.)

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Willy Mason & A.A. Bondy at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, MI, 2.2.10

Under a snow cloud that seemed to concentrate solely over Ann Arbor (and seemed to want my car as a sacrifice), in a hole in the wall bar-cum-club, a rabble of music lovers who seemed to span every age range from 18 to 40 and possibly beyond gathered around a small stage to hear what Willy Mason and A.A. Bondy had to offer.

Thinking of Willy Mason, the word that comes to mind is solid. His songwriting is solid, his guitar-playing is solid and his voice is solid. But the previous two times I had seen him play, he seemed to lack an indefinable something. Oomph, chutzpah or some other slightly onomatopoeiaic word. This time, he seems to have found the road to that indefinable something. While Mason is still more than a little quiet in between songs, the songs themselves popped with a vibrancy that had been missing before. “Pickup Truck”, “If It’s the End”, “Where the Humans Eat” and “Hard Hand to Hold” all sparkled and received deserved appreciation from the audience.

There was a sweet moment as Mason waited for some friends to come help him out on stage. He said, “We need some filler.” To which … Continue reading