Settled Down Like Rain
The Jayhawks - Verbow
Metro - Chicago
February 7, 1998
First Appeared in The Music Box, March 1998, Volume 5, #3
Written by John Metzger
On February 7, The Jayhawks made a return engagement to Chicago's Metro. Still missing from the line-up was fiddle player Jessy Greene, though her absence wasn't nearly as noticeable as it was on the band's last trip through town.
The Jayhawks typically has struggled with its first few songs, but on this evening, this was not the case. Overall, the band was much tighter and seemed more relaxed and comfortable, opening with an outstanding rendition of Settled Down Like Rain, which was dedicated to Sue and Spencer (Jeff Tweedy's wife and child). The vocals were filled with beautiful harmonies, as the band delivered the song with passion and conviction — not that the audience noticed.
In fact, the audience was horrible and was not at all in attendance to hear the music. They barely reacted to anything that the Jayhawks did. Singer Gary Louris tried in vain to establish a rapport by talking more than he usually does, but he eventually, he resigned himself to stating, I feel like we're in Europe, when the audience stood there staring blankly as he talked and sang. The audience came alive only during Blue — a song that has been mutilated by VH-1's Crossroads — and a cover of Bad Time.
Nevertheless, that didn't stop The Jayhawks from pulling out one of the best shows its new incarnation has delivered to date. Most of the songs from the band's latest disc Sound of Lies were scattered throughout the 95-minute set, and it was these that provided the highest peaks of the performance.
Though The Jayhawks started the show on more solid footing than usual, it was during Big Star, the fifth song of the evening, that the band really let loose. On Dying on the Vine, bassist Marc Perlman and drummer Tim O'Reagan locked into a driving beat, propelling the song into a monstrous wall of sonic bliss. Louris' guitar solo sliced through the beat, shredding the song into colorful bursts of reverberating sound.
Stick in the Mud and Trouble provided some of the mellower moments as Louris, keyboardist Karen Grotberg and drummer Tim O'Reagan perfectly blended their voices, filling the room with the emotion of their songs. It was also during these tunes that Grotberg's excellent keyboard playing crept through the mix.
O'Reagan also took a turn at lead vocals as The Jayhawks churned out a terrific version of Bottomless Cup. Louris added that it was his favorite song on Sound of Lies.
The set concluded as with a pairing of The Man Who Loved Life and Waiting for the Sun. On the former, The Jayahwks wrapped a groove around Perlman's rock solid bass and built it to an amazing level of intensity before Louris blasted out a guitar solo fitting of Neil Young. The latter was a bit revamped, carrying a harder-edge than the recorded version.
The Jayhawks scattered seven songs over the course of two encores, including a blistering Haywire and outstanding cover versions of Reason to Believe and You Don't Miss Your Water. Perlman had been somewhat subdued for most of the evening, choosing to hang out towards the back of the stage, behind Louris but in front of O'Reagan. On the final song he stepped to the front and added a tasty electric guitar solo to Bad Time that was reminiscent of Jeff Tweedy's style, which isn't surprising since Louris, Perlman, and Tweedy are bandmates in Golden Smog.
Verbow opened the show with an outstanding set of original material. The band blends elements of The Beatles, The Byrds, The Las, The Grays, and Nirvana into a potent mixture of highly enjoyable songs. One particular highlight was Sugarcone, the single from its latest disc.
Unfortunately, the audience was completely lost during their set. This prompted Verbow's guitarist and singer to comment on the state of the music business. He said, "If it hadn't been for the Radiohead album last year, I'd tell people I was in insurance."
Sound of Lies is available from Barnes & Noble.
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