On only my second foray out to the Rams Head this calendar year, the missus and I went to see personal faves Last Train Home. In March, we saw Paul Kelly (my current all time favorite musician). That was a good show, but disappointing in that he was only accompanied by his nephew, Dan Kelly, rather than appearing with a full band. I imagine paying for a full band to travel from Australia to play a small club tour makes no financial sense. Anyway, Paul Kelly is great, buy some of his stuff!
On Saturday afternoon, I made the fatal mistake of reading my work email and had a couple of messages that were tres annoying. So when I arrived at the Rams Head, I still had a little bit of lingering irritation in my mood. Turns out, Last Train Home and their opening act, the Youngers were the perfect antidote. I'm not sure how it works. Is it the same for everyone in the audience? Does the band feel the magic also? Or is it a personal thing? Was it just me who felt this way? Because the music and the performance hit me just right. From my personal perspective, it was a GREAT show.
First off, it was 2 BANDS performing. I appreciate that its expensive to run a band and have to split the money 4 or 5 ways but sometimes an individual sitting on a stool with an acoustic guitar just won't do. Sometimes you need volume and depth and harmonies and musical interplay and noise. It was a welcome change to have the music loud enough to drown out the conversations that too often are part of the Rams Head atmosphere.
Secondly, both bands play the straightforward roots or "Americana" style of music that I love. They don't worry that there might be a little twang in their sound. The Youngers did a set of about 7 songs. Their songs were melodic and the lead singer had a voice suited to the material. In my quest to support live music, I naturally bought their CD. And in the intimate Rams Head atmosphere, I was able to personally tell the lead singer that I liked the set.
Last Train Home came on after a 15 minute intermission and performed a long set of about 25 songs. Just excellent. Band leader Eric Brace is about as personable a front man as you will ever see. Is it possible for someone to be as nice as he seems? But I think that lost in his nice guy qualities is the fact that the guy is a damn good singer, songwriter, and musician. He keeps the band playing as a tight unit and manages to bring together the disparate sounds into a wonderful whole. Last night's group included both a steel guitar and trumpet and both were incorporated seamlessly into the arrangements. Kevin Cordt's trumpet was featured less than the last time I saw them, but was excellent nonetheless. The band is a group of experienced professional musicians who really appear to enjoy themselves and to take pride in their craft. Their teamwork is something I envy. My job is mainly an individual one and as a concession to aging, I have replaced the team sports of softball and basketball with the individual activities of golf and whatever exercise regimen I may be trying out. So I miss being part of an effort larger than myself and really appreciate seeing a true musical "group". Highlights for me included the songs Come Back Baby, Crazy Mama, and Angelita. Also love any Freddy Fender cover (Before the Next Teardrop Falls). The Iguanas cover "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" in their show. Also, drummer Martin Linds is a really good back up singer. The only things missing were their cover of Paul Kelly's "To Her Door" and my wife's fave, "Matchbox Message". Oh well, next time.
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Last Train Home