No Trouble Here

The Jayhawks - Metro - Chicago

October 4, 1997

First Appeared in The Music Box, November 1997, Volume 4, #12

Written by John Metzger


The Jayhawks returned to Chicago on October 4 for the third show of its intensely scheduled fall tour. Taking the stage without violinist Jessy Greene, the band immediately launched into Settled Down Like Rain, but was unable to find its groove for the first four songs of its 90-minute show. Once things fell into place, however, The Jayhawks proved that not only is it capable of putting together a solid performance, but that it may be making the best music of its career.

In a set that was heavily packed with songs from its latest release Sound of Lies, The Jayhawks performed with a raging intensity that easily held the audience's attention. Trouble was clearly the turning point as singer/guitarist Gary Louris snarled through the lyrics as if speaking directly to co-founder Mark Olson who departed just as the group was gaining in popularity.

But Olson's departure may have been the shot in the arm that The Jayhawks needed. There's an underlying rawness to its music that bleeds with intensity both on its latest album as well as in its live performances.

Dying on the Vine continued to build the energy level as The Jayhawks exploded the song into an eerie space-filled segment. Marc Perlman's bass line locked into Karen Grotberg's organ fills for some eerie effects before Louris carried the song to its passionate finale.

Despite the revamped sound and diversion from its earlier country-influenced songs, The Jayhawks paid homage to its roots with an outstanding version of You Don't Miss Your Water which The Byrds covered on its country-rock classic Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Just over an hour after taking the stage, the band concluded its set with a solid pairing of Think About It and Waiting for the Sun. During the first half of this year Think About It was being utilized in a show-opening role, but it fits more solidly into the later half of the set when the band has warmed up. Throughout the tune, Perlman's bass and the drumming of Tim O'Reagan fastened the song to its beat as Louris sliced through the melody with a series of stinging guitar licks. Waiting for the Sun carried a much heavier sound than the album version and provided a fitting conclusion.

The Jayhawks pulled out four songs for the first encore, including an incredible version of Haywire. The band also delivered a suprising rendition of Ain't No End from its debut recording.

The Jayhawks returned to the stage for its second encore with a twist. Louris picked up a bass, and Perlman strummed a funky beat on acoustic guitar as the group launched into Ode to Billy Joe that featured Grotberg on vocals. This was an odd choice, but the audience ate it up.

The Pushbacks, a Minneapolis band, opened the show with an enjoyable 50-minute set of solid punk-pop tunes. Many of its songs were reminiscent of The Kinks' while the group's lead singer sounded remarkably similar to Robyn Hitchcock.

Sound of Lies is available from Barnes & Noble.
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Copyright 1997 The Music Box