So here I am in Milwaukee again, to see Todd, Kasim, Jesse and Prairie at the wonderful Pabst Theatre, on the Riverwalk.
This venue is just wonderful! Not only is it a State of Wisconsin Historical Site, but the United States Department of the Interior has designated it a National Historic Landmark. Fully renovated, it's a great place to see live music because of it's excellent acoustics. From my vantage point about 20 rows from the stage in the left-hand section of orchestra seating, the sound and the view were quite good.
The musical performance was tight and full of energy, and the audience was really into it from the start. As the (by now "standard") set-list progressed, Todd's mood clearly seemed to improve. Having played the night before in Minneapolis, the day of travel became the subject of much of Todd's between-song patter. . . he spoke of grey skies in Minneapolis, a grey Minneapolis airport, flying through grey skies to the Milwaukee airport, and then the grey highway into Milwaukee, and suggested that only just now had the day begun.
A little further along, we learned that this was the first time that Todd had experienced temperatures this low since he moved from Woodstock to the southwestern-most of the 50 states.
Later, after a screaming performance of "Drive" that left the audience breathless, Todd told us that he had changed the lyrics to "Dry". I agree, having been dealing with nosebleeds for hours.
The sound was so good that I was able to hear much more deeply into the mix than in other shows on this tour. I could clearly hear the little accents and fills that Jesse does so well. Kasim's bass work was not at all muddy, and the way he frequently plays lead guitar parts on bass was strikingly apparent. The Prairie / Kasim rhythm section was really cookin' all night, providing a strong foundation for Todd's amazing catalog.
Another benefit of the good sound was the way Todd's joyous sense of harmonic relationships was showcased. There are some chords he wrote 20 years ago that still turn my spinal chord to jelly! Broke Down and Busted, Mystified, Number One Lowest Common Denominator, all were clear and powerful.
Now it's on to Chicago and the first of two sold-out shows at Park West.