Small turnout...waited in the WILL CALL line for what seemed like an eternity and decided that it will be the last WILL CALL line in which I will ever voluntarily participate. Folks with tickets were able to walk right on in while I'm mentally flogging myself. So I finally got my ticket, headed for the stage with hope for the best.
Disaster was averted as I ended up right where I usually am...up front, stage right and directly in front of Jesse. I had met Joni and her friend (both with over 30 shows under their belt) in line and they ended up on my left upfront, met up with Laura from Tokyo now Ojai (Toddstock alumni) inside, and then met Dave and his wife (Toddstock alumni) who were on my right up front. Great peoples!
So I'm up front but I feel naked. I've been out of the loop for a few years, no particular reason just seasons of life (Iíve totally missed the LIARS era and need pick that up forthwith) and in the intervening years my photography equipment ended up in various states of disrepair and was discarded along the way. I never replaced it so this is the first show I didn't have my eye to an SLR lens most of the show. I did bring my digital and if anything turned out I'll send it along.
The Morgensterns (sp) opened an acoustic set that had some serious Roger Manning, Wallflowers, Tom Petty influences...apparently this was their first acoustic outing as they usually play fully electric. They had a fun pocket and nice grooves but there wasn't much diversity deep in the set. However, I enjoyed their performance and thought it was a great warm up.
So finally the band hits the stage... Iím so glad I didnít look at a set list before going to the show...opening with LOVE IN ACTION was so sweetÖit pumped the evening up to the next level immediately. I couldnít place WALLS but it sounded familiar...I forgot about that tune...really great cover.
I thought I was going to implode with the opening of BLACK MARIA...OMG...SAHWEET! I donít know if it surpassed the absolutely THUNDERING ON FIRE version at the Fillmore in...uh, oh wow...I just had to look up that show and I canít believe it was 12 years ago in 1996 (*sigh*)...unreal.
Speaking of unreal...I canít believe Todd is 60...you wouldnít know it if you didnít know it, you know? I mean he just shredded MARIA - ALL UP IN YOí FACE type shredded...and then just kept on shredding with Jesse through OPEN MY EYES into the most unexpected tune of the night: LUNATIC FRINGE. I SAW THE LIGHT seemed fresher to me but itís been awhile. I donít know how it couldíve sounded any better. Actually, I donít know how any of the songs could ever sound any better as it was pumpiní; at least from where I was anyway.
Todd looks a lot healthier and in better shape than the last time I saw him and his voice seems stronger; although that may be in part due to the chosen material. There was a point during the solo tours back when that he was having a hard time hitting the registers he laid down in the studio.
Todd almost restarted one tune but it wasnít such a train wreck that it couldnít be saved and the bank just pushed through. Oddly, the only broken string I saw was with Jesse on VICTORY but then I couldíve missed it.
I loved the new material as well, I was in various states of pounding my hands or bouncing to the beat most of the night but being unfamiliar with it I canít really separate it all yet...especially without knowing the lyrics. I know I definitely wanted to them to repeat a couple of the new songs again immediately they were so good and one has a guitar lick that reminds me of the opening lick from THE MARRIAGE OF HEAVEN AND HELL.
Bottom line is that Todd and Jesse were tearing it up the whole night...Prairie was the rock...super solid; Matt was having a great time alternating between keys and guitar but I didnít hear him much...and Rachel, well..., and again, from where I was she was layiní it down and sounded great; her lines were solid and in the pocket. And thereís just something about a beautiful woman with a bass guitar in her hands. Iíve read various posts of people bagging on her for not moving around. SHEEESH...you know, some musicians arenít wired to move about much while they play...so what?
COULDNíT and VICTORY really rounded out the night for me although I wish they had had something else up their sleeve to offer us...like BREAD. I brought a loaf of bread with me and before the encore I tossed my loaf (and yes, I considered editing that last statement) over by Toddís foot pedals. When I saw it registered with him I shouted ďCanyon Club pleaseĒ and he smiled slightly but I know Iím dreaming.
I canít recommend this tour highly enough. Toddís got his can of whipa** guitar open right now and it's open all night long (giving Jesse even more opportunities to rip it up as always) so if you like that sort of thing IN ANY WAY you should make a beeline to the next show near you and get yourself some while it is piping red frackiní hot.