Up the Downstair

Being a weeklie podcaste from Madison, Wisconsin featuring several remarkable curiosities therein occurring being a compendium of live music from divers artistes

Son Volt Returns

October 19th, 2005

After my first experience with The Rave last Thursday, I masochistically returned the following night for Son Volt. Again I was accompanied by my girlfriend but also by a friend of mine and her husband. We weren’t patted down like the night before but a security guard made his way through the audience before SV went on stage to check everyone out.

First off, it was a fucking blast to finally see the band in concert. I first started listening to them just before they released their second album, Straightaways but never saw them live until last week. Their latest, Okemah and the Melody of Riot, features a new line-up and eschewed the folk inflections of the band’s previous work. Whereas the early albums were a mix of heavier songs set next to quieter ones replete with fiddle, pedal steel, etc., Okemah is a showcase for the heavier side. Still, the songs have that rough & ragged feel that is a trademark of the band’s sound. Last Friday, the band was loud. As with the Porcupine Tree show, the vocals were lost somewhere in the mix and I found that, at times, one guitar or the other got muddled. Jay was his usual stoic self, singing with eyes closed half the time and barely talking to the audience. But he treated us to a great performance.

The new material translated well to the live setting and provided several highlights of the evening. Jay’s mini-bio of George Bush, “Jet Pilot”, rocked hard and the volume put some extra force behind the lyrics, “The revolution will be televised…”. As when Jay did the song on solo acoustic guitar in August, the country raga “Medication” ended with a lengthy and very frantic jam. With a full band, things got even crazier with distorted guitar flying every which way. Just incredible! “Afterglow 61″ is a classic song – just blatantly catchy and was great live as well. They had a keyboard player with them and he contributed lots of organ playing which added some color and drama to songs like “Afterglow 61″. The keys gave the song an anthemic feel. As for the older stuff, I loved “Picking Up the Signal” and was very happy to hear material from Wide Swing Tremelo as I have a soft spot for that album. “Straightface” and “Driving the View” were welcome additions. And there were plenty of classics from Trace such as “Route” and “Loose String” in addition to the obligatory tunes no Son Volt concert is without: “Windfall” & “Tear-Stained Eye”. They finished the show with a song The Clash made famous, “Armagideon Time” and then launched into a blistering version of the Uncle Tupelo classic, “Chickamauga” during which Jay just let loose. Here’s the setlist:

Bandages & Scars
Six String Belief
Back Into Your World
Joe Citizen Blues
Medicine Hat
Damn Shame
Feel Free
Loose String
Chaos Streams
Live Free
Clear Day Thunder
Picking Up the Signal
Jet Pilot
Endless War
Caryatid Easy
World Waits For You
Tear Stained Eye
Driving the View
Afterglow 61

Armagideon Time

Related posts:

  1. Son Volt News
  2. New Releases
  3. An Evening With Jay Farrar
  4. Show 1: On the Gramophone
  5. Live Music Are Better Bumper Stickers Will Be Issued

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