Monday, July 04, 2005

The Son Volt revival is ALIVE and WELL, and they ROCK!

Recently, a friend of mine went to see one of my favorite bands, Son Volt perform live at the Fox Theater in Boulder, CO. Below is his review.

Son Volt!

Show was sold out before will call line formed to wait on the opening of the box office. I arrived about an hour and 45 min before the doors (8:30). I was in line for the door behind 20 people waiting for will call tics. Then fifth at the door when that line formed.

First of all, there were no Son Volt discs on sale out front. Only Jay's solo albums. I purchased a bonus edition of 'Sebastapol' just to pitch in for the tour. Secondly, I don't know the songs well enough to name off the track list. And there was only one tracklist on the stage on top of Jay's Bassman amp. But the band smoked!

The show at the Fox was great! Opening band "Drag the River" was a reasonably good opener band. You know, each of the musicians out front had very noticeable duct tape patches on their instruments? Did you ever read about Wilco doing things like that to appear understated with their gear? Rhythm guitar and bass had their duct tape patches on the horn shapes of the instrument bodies where the strap fastens. I'm sure all were bogus. The acoustic guitarist has duct tape and a black strip taped over the sound port of his acoustic. Tacky as hell!

Jay has upgraded his guitar collection, with one black and one gold urethane finished Gretsch Electromatic Duo Jet professional models. These post on web retailer sites new for around $500. They are available in gold, black and silver finish colors and have bigsby tremolo bridges units mounted on the deck (not at the bottom of the body like David Gilmour's Gretsch and the George Harrison signature model). (modest new additions) These alternated between Jay and his guitar tech after each song. Exceptions were numbers with Jay's Les Paul (or variant) or his
sunburst acoustic "B" guitar. (Most of main acts this weekend had bass player playing through Ampeg heads and cabinets) Son Volt Bassists played a Gibson four string (or variant) With a Fender signature or other bass model for backup axe.

When Son Volt started, Jay was shaking his head at the lead guitarist's opening riff (blonde Telecaster only, played through a one of the Vox combo amp models 30 or 50 watt). But the guitarist didn't see it. From then on they really took off. Many of the songs I'm sure were new off of the Okemah disc. When Jay introduced "Joe Citizen Blues," he said they had the new cd and named Okemah and the 'Riot of Melody', "but this song isn't on it." (grimace) Then they broke into the song.

You may well already have a tracklist of the show. They played 'Tear Stained Eye,' '6 string belief,' and versions of most of "Straightaways" tracks excluding the slower tempo songs. Jay seemed to be trying to establish common ground with the audience, building familiarity with well remembered songs, then surveying listener responses to new material and Son Volt revivals. He was intent on the audience. I was front line at the banister on the right (across the dance floor from stage), directly in front of the bassist.

Jay seemed to look towards my position -- if not directly at me --or over my right shoulder --most of the time he was looking up and out. And I am sure he noticed myself and others miming an/ singing along on familiar refrains of 'Tear Stained Eye,' and '6 string belief.' I think he was looking for just this kind of audience rapport.

There were 3 songs in the encore , finishing with Neil Young cover, "Cortez, Cortez." Didn't get a look at Jay's pedal board. It was relatively small, squarish (like Katleen Edwards Guitarist's pedal board) no more than 4 pedals. Jay relies mostly on his Fender 50 watt Bassman for tonal effect. (it is a fav among many guitarists and rivals the popularity of the Marshall tube heads and cabs of way back 60s)

-by kxweave