Asheville show review - Oct. 15, 2008

Review by Chuck Wiggins (Switch to

Deb and I made the trek from Cincinnati to Asheville as a part of a long weekend in the Western North Carolina/East Tennessee region (a college reunion began the next day in Tennessee). It was well worth the trip to Asheville - the concert was exceptional. The band was extremely tight, and handled the few musical slips with a light-hearted attitude. "Arena" is made to be played live. As some others have mentioned, this seemed a bit like "Utopia-light" - the high energy interplay, insightful lyrics, and an overall thematic approach, without the lengthy jams and elaborate stage sets. (Don't get me wrong - I like the lengthy jams...).

I wasn't sure how Kasim would fit into this configuration. And I can't say I was that aware of his specific role throughout most of the evening. But one of the evening's musical highlights was the edgy harmony he provided during the verses of "Panic". I definitely appreciated the addition of Rachel's female vocals into the live mix. Todd's lead lines were just a pleasure to watch and hear - we were only a couple of people back from the stage, and Todd came close to the audience for the solo bits.

Another highlight for me was the Nazz tune "Open My Eyes". I haven't gone back to the Nazz-era recordings, so was not that familiar with this song. But I'm making it a point to obtain a copy - just loved the layered vocal chorus.

We met up with Grady Moates and some friends of his for dinner prior to the show - had a great time rekindling our Toddstock friendship. The majority of people we met at the show were out-of-towners. We met folks who had flown from Ft. Lauderdale, driven in from Charleston, SC, and several other locations I can't recall. So I'm not sure how many were actually locals. I heard the Orange Peel holds about 900 (standing room), and I'd guess there were perhaps 400-500 in the audience. The sound was excellent, except that "Lunatic Fringe" was a bit distorted. But Grady pointed out that may have been intentional.

If the band remains this tight during the upcoming European tour, folks in those cities are up for a real treat! Just a thoroughly enjoyable evening of music from one of the greatest ever.

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10/15/2008 - Orange Peel - Asheville, NC

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