Vanguard, Dec 6
It was good to see the band again at the Vanguard. Because it’s so small it the show really has a different vibe than a larger, particularly stand up venue – more like an intimate show than a concert event.
The crowded line up on the stage took some getting used to. Stewie was next to Russell on the left side of the stage and Dean was on the far right next to Alan. From where I was sitting I could only see the tips of Dave’s drum sticks pounding away and unless Dean peaked out from the curtains, I could only see the neck of his guitar!
I still can’t say enough about how good the band sounds. The addition of Stuart Hunter on the keyboards, Bones on bass and more prominent opportunities to hear Stewie on the trumpet really adds a lot of depth and a certain clarity to the sound of all the songs. I have seen enough concerts since 2000 to say that Russell’s voice sounds stronger and more confident than it ever has.
The form of the concert followed the same song pattern that has been written about before. Russell told the story about his father loosing his job for What Do You Want Me to Forget and he also introduced Mickey with a story about Mickey, who once ‘worked’ with David Bowie on tour, meeting Bowie those many years later in Toronto. The Preacher made an appearance or two, one was to introduce Breathless. Russell summed the meaning of Breathless up as a “prayer”. We sang along to Richard Harris and Be Easy and Free. Testify is so different from the first time I heard it last July. They own it in concert now with great gusto, total commitment and a sound to knock the roof off the joint!
Speaking of the ‘joint’, I found the downside to a mostly sit down venue like the Vanguard is that the energy of the band dissipated a bit because people weren’t up and moving as in other concerts. To me, Tofog is best enjoyed by both people familiar with their music and particularly those who are not as a ‘full body’ experience. It’s really hard to be seated for Folsom or Testify. I think the audience has a better chance to give their energy back to the band if they have a chance to be more fully involved.