Thursday, July 14, 2016

Henry Wagons at Bootleg Theater, 7-13-16 Concert Review

Henry Wagons performing "Santa Fe"
I arrange my work schedule around music, as much as I’m able. Some folks think I’m mad for taking a day off to see a band, but in fact I usually take two days off. No sense in having to get up early the day after a concert. And so this week I turned down work for Wednesday and Thursday in order to see Henry Wagons at the Bootleg Theater Wednesday night. He played this venue only a few weeks ago, a solo show, and it was great. This time he had a band backing him, including one musician who was in the band Wagons. And I have to say this show was even better. It was a treat to be able to see him twice in such a short span of time, as he’s based in Australia. I hope this means he’ll be touring the states more often.

Before the show I noticed that under the upside down “Cocktails” sign, upon which Henry remarked last time, there was a Henry Wagons poster. Very cool. Last time he wasn’t the headliner, but rather supported Leslie Stevens Band. This time he was the main act, which of course meant listening to two openers before getting to enjoy his set. But since the two bands on the bill with him the previous time were really good, I was hopeful and optimistic about the lineup last night, though I was unfamiliar with the other two artists.

The first, Sam Morrow, was scheduled to go on at 8:45 p.m., according to the little hand-made sign taped to the wall outside the entrance. And, holy moly, at exactly 8:45 the band took the stage. I love it. And within a few minutes the night was off and running. This was a really good rock band, which included Ted Russell Kamp on bass. They played some tunes from There Is No Map, including “Girls,” “Green” (with Samantha Valdez joining on backing vocals) and “Devil’s In The Details.” They also did a good cover of Willie Nelson’s “Shotgun Willie.” Miwi La Lupa then did a solo set on electric guitar, playing several songs from his recent release, Ended Up Making Love, including “Big Heart,” “Holiday” and “I Yield.” So, yes, once again the two artists on the bill with Henry Wagons were excellent.

Henry Wagons took the stage at 10:33 p.m., only three minutes past the scheduled time. How about that? Maybe it’s just a result of getting older, but I really appreciate it when things start on time. The band kicked off the set with “Tomboy,” a song from After What I Did Last Night, Henry’s most recent release. The set focused mainly on material from that album. After that first song, Henry remarked, “What a great night of music it’s been.” Indeed. I know that headliners will often compliment the openers, but in this case it was true.

The band then went into “King Hit,” followed by “Head Or Heart,” both from the new CD. Henry thanked the crowd for coming out on a Wednesday night. “It’s great you dragged your asses out here,” he said. He had the audience laughing throughout the set. Seriously, his banter between songs was just as enjoyable as the songs themselves. After a good rocking version of “Drive All Night ‘Til Dawn,” Henry mentioned his previous gig at this venue, and then talked about how Chad used to be in Wagons until he fell in love with a woman and moved to Nashville – a woman he actually met during a Wagons tour. After not getting much of a reaction from the audience, Henry turned to Chad and said, “They’re pretty unimpressed,” and added that love happens all the time. He then dedicated “Cold Burger, Cold Fries” to Chad’s wife.

After “Weak Link,” Henry joked, “We’re hurtling toward my favorite part of the show right now,” and then encouraged the band to leave the stage so he could do a solo song. He chose the humorous “Keep Your Eyes Off My Sister” from the Wagons album The Rise And Fall Of Goodtown. The band then returned for a cover of “Never Been To Spain.” That’s a song Wagons actually covered on that same CD. Henry also played it at his solo gig at the Bootleg Theater last month, and so this time when he sang that he’d never been to the Bootleg Theater, he quickly added, “Clearly a lie.”

He then did a few more from After What I Did Last Night…, including “Only Child,” “Only Sane Mother Fucker” and “Santa Fe.” During “Only Sane Mother Fucker,” he got off the stage and danced around with the audience. After that song, he mentioned how he touched the forehead of one guy in the crowd and got a vision of the man’s future, which included children and two divorces. “You’ll be mostly sad, but you’ll have happy moments,” Henry told him.

The band then wrapped up the set with two songs from the Wagons album Rumble, Shake And Tumble, which is the CD that turned me on to Henry Wagons. They did “I Blew It” and “Willie Nelson.” Chad sang the salt and pepper line in “Willie Nelson,” and Henry got the whole crowd singing along by the end. It was a fantastic set. I thought there would certainly be an encore, but the house music went on only seconds after the band left the stage.

Set List
  1. Tomboy
  2. King Hit
  3. Head Or Heart
  4. Drive All Night ‘Til Dawn
  5. Cold Burger, Cold Fries
  6. Weak Link
  7. Keep Your Eyes Off My Sister
  8. Never Been To Spain
  9. Only Child
  10. Only Sane Mother Fucker
  11. Santa Fe
  12. I Blew It
  13. Willie Nelson 
Here are some photos from the set:

"Head Or Heart"
"Head Or Heart"
"Drive All Night 'Til Dawn"
"Drive All Night 'Til Dawn"
"Cold Burger, Cold Fries"
"Cold Burger, Cold Fries"
"Only Child"
"Only Sane Mother Fucker"
"Willie Nelson"

Tickets for this show were $10. The Bootleg Theater is located at 2220 Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles, California.

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