Category Archives: setlist

Live the Night Before Last: Neko Case

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Neko Case’s anachronistic beauty might seem ordinary only measured against her elemental, once-in-a-generation set of pipes. At her enjoyable if slightly schizophrenic gig at the 9:30 club last night, That Voice had the capacity crowd on its best behavior. The only people doing much goofing around for the majority of the spectral 85-minute set were 1) Neko Case, campfire noir knockout, and 2) Kelly Hogan, backing vocalist/emcee/hype woman/song introducer. The duo sounds sublime when their banter eventually turns to singing, but there’s still something a little spell-breaking about the fact that Case essentially has her own heckler on the payroll.

“The next song is a spooky song,” she announced before the as-advertised “Prison Girls.”

“Spookier,” Hogan corrected her.
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Blatantly Pornographic: A.C. Newman and Five Other People at the Black Cat

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Why not introduce the band, Carl? Reviewed for Post Rock.

A. C. Newman at the Black Cat, Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Setlist

01 There Are Maybe Ten or Twelve
02 Miracle Drug
03 Like a Hitman, Like a Dancer
04 Prophets
05 Secretarial
06 The Heartbreak Rides
07 The Cloud Prayer
08 The Palace at 4 a.m.
09 All of My Days and All of My Days Off
10 Young Atlantis
11 Drink to Me, Babe, Then
12 The Collected Works
13 The Changeling (Get Guility)
14 Submarines of Stockholm
15 On the Table

ENCORE:

16 Come Crash
17 The Town Halo

Live Two Nights Ago: Modest Mouse, or Please Explain It to Me: Modest Mouse (Live)

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Reviewed for Post Rock. I still like some of their records, but live, this band is just a headache that won’t go away.

Modest Mouse at the 9:30 Club, (the wee small hours of) Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Setlist

01 The View
02 Interstate 8
03 Dashboard
04 Here It Comes
05 Tiny Cities Made of Ashes
06 King Rat
07 Custom Concern
08 3rd Planet
09 The Whale Song
10 Black Cadillacs
11 Broke
12 We’ve Got Everything
13 Fly Trapped in a Jar
14 Blame It on the Tetons
15 Paper Thin Walls
16 Bury Me with It
17 The Good Times Are Killin’ Me

ENCORE

18 Satin in a Coffin
19 Satellite Skin
20 Parting of the Sensory

Live Last Night: Three Girls and Their Buddy

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Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller

Reviewed for the Paper of Record. Great music, just not enough of it, especially at $110 per ticket!

Three Girls and Their Buddy: Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin, Emmylou Harris, and Buddy Miller, February 3, 2009

The Setlist

01 Belle Star (EH)
02 Truth No. 2 (PG)
03 Twilight (SC)
04 All My Tears (BM)
05 How She Could Sing the Wildwood Flower (EH)
06 I’m gonna miss you when you go (new PG torch song)
07 Fill Me Up (SC)
08 Poison Love (BM)
09 The Other Side of Life (EH)
10 Love Throw a Line [PG]
11 That Don’t Worry Me Now [SC]
12 Shelter Me [BM]
13 Old Five and Dimers Like Me [EH]
14 Up to the Mountain [PG]
15 Keep Your Distance [SC]
16 Wide River to Cross [LH]
17 Abraham, Martin and John [EH]
18 As soon as this over [PG a capella song]
19 Crazy [SC]
20 Chalk [BM]

21 We Shall All Be Reunited

Hayes Carll at the RnR Hotel

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Reviewed for the Paper of Record.

The Setlist:

01 Drunken Poet’s Dream
02 Wild as a Turkey
03 Beaumont
04 I Got a Gig
05 Faulker Street
06 Rivertown
07 Little Rock
08 Arkansas Blues
09 Good Friends
10 Bad Liver and a Broken Heart
11 Girl Downtown
12 Chickens
13 She Left Me for Jesus
14 I Don’t Wanna Grow Up
15 (new Christmas song written “just the other day”)
16 Highway 87
17 Down the Road Tonight

ENCORE:
18 Long Way Home
19 Wish I Hadn’t Stayed So Long
20 A Lover Like You

Nick Cave Shares His ‘Stache as the 9:30

I got home from the first of mustache-on-a-wire Nick Cave’s two performances at the 9:30 Club this week to find an e-mail message from a publicist at his label saying the interview we’d booked for the following morning was canceled. (I felt only a little better when I heard he’d canceled on Post Rock‘s David Malitz, too.) The show had put me in a good mood that even that unwelcome news couldn’t spoil. In 250 words or, well, slightly more:

Nick Cave, the Australian punk-turned-literary death-rocker, is among the greatest frontmen in rock and roll. Hyperbole? Nope, check the math: You add the feral swagger of Iggy Pop to the cabaret poise of David Bowie, then factor in the shameless mustache of — that guy from Gogol Bordello, maybe? What about that mustache?

Doubtless it’s important: In his clean-shaven incarnation, Cave was writing tender piano ballads like “Love Letter” and “Into My Arms,” the only two opportunities to relax in his otherwise amphetamine-paced 18-song exorcism at the 9:30 Club Sunday night. But the Primary Source Document of the ‘Stache Era is this year’s Dig!!! Lazurus Dig!!!, one of those rare records that broadens a long-lived artist’s cult while alienating none of the true believers. But mostly, the disc justifies its six titular exclamation point by just rocking like hell — or so you thought, until you heard the seven-piece incarnation of the Bad Seeds up the ante on the songs for the stage, detonating them with sternum-rattling force.

Cave slunk onstage to the doomsday churn of “Night of the Lotus Eaters,” chanting the tracks’s refrain (“Get ready to shield yourself!”) and discarding the verses entirely. A gaunt spectre in gray pinstripes, he strapped on a guitar as the band slammed into Dig!!!’s title track, and the show was off like a cannonball. A string of lightbulbs framed the stage like a dressing-room mirror, emphasizing the theatrical-beyond-any-concern-of-parody nature of Cave’s preening, pointing, hand-squeezing stage manner. He even signed books for fans between songs.

The sold-out crowd welcomed vigorous concert staples like “The Weeping Song” and “Deanna” with fond expectation, and “The Mercy Seat” — already a key track in Cave’s thick songbook when his hero, Johnny Cash, covered it, pushing its stock even higher — was an apocalyptic showstopper, driven by the electric squall of Warren Ellis’s violin.

“It ain’t that great,” Cave demurred when a fan shouted for him to remove his clothes. But we’ll take 110 minutes of his soul over a flash of skin anytime.

A version of this review appears in today’s paper of Record.

NIGHT TWO was marginally less awesome, but still one of the best gigs I’ve seen this year. I’m not sure why Cave couldn’t get through “God Is in the House,” which he stopped and started three times before finally abandoning the tune to reprise “Love Letter” from the prior night. Or why he announced — but did not play — “The Ship Song” during the encore portion of the set both nights. But I was plenty grateful for what we got.

The Setlist – Sunday, October 5, 2008

01 Night of the Lotus Eaters
02 Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!
03 Tupelo
04 The Weeping Song
05 Red Right Hand
06 Midnight Man
07 Love Letter
08 Hold on to Yourself
09 Moonland
10 The Mercy Seat
11 Deanna
12 Hard on for Love
13 We Call Upon the Author
14 Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry

    ENCORE

15 Into My Arms
16 Get Ready for Love
17 The Lyre of Orpheus
18 Stagger Lee

The Setlist – Monday, October 6, 2008

01 Hold on to Yourself
02 Dig!!! Lazurus Dig!!!
03 Tupelo
04 The Weeping Song
05 Red Right Hand
06 Midnight Man
07 God Is in the House* (aborted) / Love Letter
08 Today’s Lesson*
09 The Mercy Seat
10 Moonland
11 Deanna
12 Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry
13 More News from Nowhere*

    ENCORE

14 Your Funeral, My Trial*
15 Jesus of the Moon*
16 Get Ready for Love
17 Stagger Lee

*not performed the prior night

To New or Not to New?


On their 1992 Zoo TV Tour, U2 opened with six-to-eight songs in a row from their then-most-recent album, Achtung Baby, and the crowd was with them. But they didn’t have the confidence to repeat this approach on the 1997 PopMart Tour — and of course, the POP album was far less popular than Achtung, especially in the U.S.

Ace Paper of Record music critic J. Freedom du Lac pre-viewed his re-view of Jackson Browne’s Warner Theatre concet with this blog post, chiding Brown for apologizing for his new material.

Since you asked, here’s my take:

If you’re going to apologize for playing your new stuff, you forfeit the right to refer to yourself as an artist, I think. Based on JFdL’s review (I wasn’t at the show), I’d give Browne a pass for apologizing once on account of the album not having been released yet. It sounds like he was apologizing repeatedly, though, which is just weak.

But bellowing out song requests is almost always obnoxious. Sure, there are exceptions — like when the performer asks, “So what do you guys want to hear?” But few artists work that way, and no artist worth listing to works that way all the time, and the idea that a performer just walked out there without having made up a setlist that expresses whatever it is they want to express is borderline insulting. More irritating still is when the request-shouters call for obvious warhorses — like “Running on Empty” or “The Pretender” — that everybody knows with 90 percent certainty they’re going to hear anyway! If you’re only interested in the half-dozen or so most familiar tunes in the artist’s catalogue, why bother attending a concert? Make a playlist, save yourself an evening and $150 or so, and spare the members of the audience who actually know how to show their appreciation in a respectful way the headache of having to deal with you all night.

A lot of this depends on what kind of artist you’re dealing with. When U2 or Bruce Springsteen tour a new album, they typically play half to three-quarters of the new material at least for the first leg or first couple of months. Radiohead are playing In Rainbows in its entirety and then some, including bonus tracks that (I think) are only included on the pricey deluxe editions of the album. R.E.M. are playing most of their new album this year, but then again, the album is less than 35 minutes long, leaving plenty of room in the set for crowd-pleasers and rarities alike. With an act like Tom Petty or the Rolling Stones, you’ll hear maybe two or three of the new songs, tops. But when Aimee Mann played the Birchmere last February to preview songs from Smilers several months (not one week) before the album was on sale, she didn’t apologize for playing the new stuff. She believed in the songs, and she sold them. Period.

I also believe a lot of artists are more willing to risk playing a preponderance of new stuff in a small venue than they are in a large one. (The Warner would be about mid-size, I guess.)