Saturday, June 10, 2017

Bombadil at The Hotel Café, 6-9-17 Concert Review

Bombadil performing "Honeymoon"
From what I’ve been able to gather from my time on this planet so far, life is all about friends, family and good music. And sometimes you can combine those for something approaching magic. Last night I finally got a chance to see the band Bombadil, and it was one of those special nights. Though I went alone, I ended up meeting some good people, people who were as excited as I was to see this band. None of us had seen them before, and that helped unite us in a way. Each of us came to the music from a different place – one started with the latest album (Fences) and worked her way back, one started with the very first demo a friend had given her and has moved forward with the band, and I started somewhere in the middle in 2013 with Metrics Of Affection. But we’d all come to the same conclusion: Bombadil is an exceptional band, a band we should pay attention to.

Last night they took the stage just after 9 p.m., and right from the start their sense of humor and sense of play were apparent. They joked that they were going to start by playing a portion of a song. “We don’t want to play the whole thing.” And then, true to their word, they sang just a small a portion of “Is This Danger,” a song from Fences, delivering it a cappella. This show at The Hotel Café was the first stop on their west coast tour, and they talked about how their week had basically been spent on Interstate 40 “until about four hours ago.” They delivered a caveat as they got the show going: “So if we forget words, you can blame Interstate 40. I can give you their mailing address after the show.” And yes, they did at one point forget some of the words to the first song of the set, “Perfect.” And it worked strangely to bring the audience together with the band. A tiny error somehow brought the room together. And it was then I knew for certain that this was going to be a seriously good show.

The set focused mainly on material from the new album, and they followed “Perfect” with “Good News Sadie.”  There is a lot to love about this band, but certainly one key element is the vocals. And when the three harmonize, the music reaches some pretty high plateaus. During “Good News Sadie,” there was plenty of beauty in that regard. They went straight into “Not Those Kind Of People,” another song from Fences. They dedicated the next song to their friend Brittany, then before playing it asked her a favor – to bring up glasses water for them. “Does anyone else need water?” they asked the crowd, offering to have Brittany fetch it for them if they did. The song they dedicated to Brittany was “Fence,” the (almost) title track from the new album, and they delivered a moving and uplifting rendition.

James asked the audience if anyone takes the subway in L.A., having heard from a friend about some of the art and decorations at certain stations. Actually, I took the subway to the show, because of some new parking restrictions on the street where I used to always find a spot. The subway in L.A. isn’t like the subway in Boston or New York. It just doesn’t go everywhere. But for certain places, it’s great. And The Hotel Café is just a few blocks from the Hollywood and Vine stop (on the way to the show, I got off a bit early, at Hollywood and Highland, but no matter). Anyway, James continued, “So if you would like to tell me after the show where your favorite subway art is in L.A., I would love to go there, probably immediately following the show.” He then mentioned that the next song is about riding the subway, leading Daniel to comment, “I was wondering where you were going with that story actually.” They then launched into “Coughing On The F Train,” the first song of the night to not come from Fences. It’s from the band’s 2015 release, Hold On, and it’s a fun tune.

They followed that with “Long Life,” which James dedicated to his niece, Elizabeth. “Long Life” is my favorite song from the new album, and actually is one of my favorite songs of the year so far. It’s one of those songs that just always work. You know? And it featured some beautiful blending of the three voices last night. Absolutely wonderful and sweet. A strange instrumental section connected that song with the following tune, “Binoculars,” also from Fences. “Binoculars” is a great example of how this band can both make an audience laugh out loud and move them within a single song. That was followed by “So Many Ways To Die,” one of my favorite songs from Tarpits And Canyonlands, which was originally released in 2009 and re-issued in 2014. “You are exactly who you choose.” Yes. Bombadil then concluded the set with another highlight from that album, “Honeymoon.” Several people in the audience sang along from the very first line, which, by the way, is “Throw the body in the lake.” Yes, I love this band. And after seeing them in concert, I like them even more.

Set List
  1. Is This Danger
  2. Perfect
  3. Good News Sadie >
  4. Not Those Kind Of People
  5. Fence
  6. Coughing On The F Train
  7. Long Life >
  8. Binoculars
  9. So Many Ways To Die
  10. Honeymoon
Here are a few photos from the show:

"Coughing On The F Train"
segue from "Long Life" to "Binoculars"
The tour continues up the coast, the next stop being Davis, California. If you’re in the area tonight, or can get to that area tonight, I highly recommend checking out this band. From there, they go to San Francisco, Portland and Seattle (and then back down to Oregon for a few more dates). By the way, for you fellow vinyl fans, at the merchandise table they have three of their releases for sale on vinyl. I ended up purchasing Tarpits And Canyonlands, which is on 180 gram colored vinyl. If you want the color of the vinyl to be a surprise, stop reading now. It’s peach marble (though apparently some copies are a rose color).

The Hotel Café is located at 1623 N. Cahuenga Blvd. in Los Angeles.

1 comment:

  1. It really was magic. Such a genuine pleasure to meet you, Michael! Baseball, Star Wars, AND fantastic music! I am sure our worlds will overlap again.