Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Bob Weir at The Wiltern, 10-10-16 Concert Review

Bob Weir performing "I Know You Rider"
Recently Bob Weir released an album of original compositions, his first such release in, well, a long time. Titled Blue Mountain, it’s quite a bit different from his other records, much more firmly in the folk and country realm. And it’s wonderful. This is a CD I loved the first time I listened to it, and love more each time I return to it. Bob Weir is doing a short tour to support the CD, only nine dates in eight cities. I’m fortunate that Los Angeles is one of those cities. Joining Bob Weir on this tour are Josh Kaufman, Steve Kimock, Bryan Devendorf, Scott Devendorf, and Jon Shaw. Aaron Dessner was original scheduled to be part of the band for this tour, but had to cancel due a family emergency. Monday’s show at the Wiltern was the third stop on the tour, and the last west coast show.

I had never been to The Wiltern before, and I was struck by how friendly the staff was, at least all the folks I came in contact with. Apart from the parking attendant. That guy was a dick. But I don’t know if the garage is even associated with the Wiltern. Could be a different set of employees. And while I’m on that, $25 seemed like a lot to pay to park in that little garage, and then to be told I had to squeeze my wagon into a compact spot when there were plenty of larger spots available. What a dick. But everyone else I talked with was really nice, very relaxed. And the venue itself was nice as well. It’s not as pretty or ornate as Pantages, but has something of that vibe, and is more intimate. And the general admission floor area has a few different levels, so even if you’re toward the back, you could have a good view (provided a basketball player didn’t plant himself in front of you, of course – and there is one of those wandering about, I am told, but I didn’t notice him at this show – geez, I’ve been in parentheses long enough that I can’t recall what the hell this sentence is really about – ah, no matter).

My friend and I picked a spot maybe halfway back, and I stood with my left foot on the white tape that indicated the aisles. I find that as I get older space is becoming more and more important to me, and having people surrounding me is less and less attractive. When we came in, one of the employees was putting tape on the floor in a weird spot on the side, and she told me it was for the tapers. I didn’t think the tapers would want to be there, and certainly none of them went to that spot, as far as I could tell. But the tape on the floor reminded me of that Lars von Trier film Dogville, in which the whole set is basically indicated by tape on the floor. It gave tonight a somewhat surreal feel to me, as the reality of the walls created by the tape was dubious at best, unless we believed in it, and I definitely began to believe in it. Plus, the usher near me enforced the walls’ reality. Which I appreciated.

At 7:38, someone stepped onto the stage, putting the set lists in place. It’s still a bit odd, the band working from a set list. But of course, it isn’t that band, is it? It’s one member. But still, even at the Dead & Company shows they have a set list. It takes a bit of getting used to, doesn’t it? At 7:53, Bob Weir came out on stage and started the show by himself, with just his acoustic guitar. He opened with “KC Moan.” Nice start, but it was remarkable how noisy the audience was. Bob Weir then started strumming the next tune, and it wasn’t until the vocals started that most people recognized the song as “Loose Lucy.” Bob’s voice sounded great, by the way. And behind him above the stage was a screen with imagery of fields and so on. The audience sang along with “Loose Lucy,” and they were excited, exuberant in their delivery of “Yeah” and – of course – “Thank you for a real good time.”

Bob then talked about how fifty or so years ago a fifteen-year-old wanted to run off and be a cowboy, and so did, and that then led to “Blue Mountain,” the title track of the new CD, the first song of the night from the album. And it sounded so good, performed solo by Bob.

The band then came on for “Cottonwood Lullaby,” another song from the new album. By then, the crowd had settled down a bit. There was a loony near me who just couldn’t stop yelling pointless comments, but eventually he was able to turn his comments inward, or find that special calm within his particular brand of storm. Whatever it was, he did finally shut the fuck up. And I figured he’d be in some other sphere for the second set anyway, no way was he going to be able to remain in one spot without the music transfixing him. Following “Cottonwood Lullaby” was “Lay My Lily Down,” one of my favorites from the new CD, and the song that gave us the night’s first bit of jamming. This was a great version, I always appreciate the banjo, and it was followed by an absolutely wonderful version of another favorite of mine, “Only A River,” with a river being shown on the screen behind the band.

The line from “Ghost Towns” that always grabs me for some reason is “Love comes and goes.” Something about his deliver, I suppose. Bob followed that with a somewhat relaxed “El Paso” and then concluded the first set with “Gonesville,” featuring some great guitar during the jam. The first set ended at 8:52 p.m.

When they came back on stage at 9:35 p.m. for the second set, my friend Jon and I tried to guess what they’d open with. We were both wrong. They started with “Me And My Uncle,” and stretched it out a bit, following it with “Jack-A-Roe.” That was good, but the second set really started to get going with “West L.A. Fadeaway.” They sort of eased into it, teasing it a bit, with a nice intro, and it was all accompanied by some trippy images on the screen. This was a truly excellent rendition of “West L.A. Fadeaway,” bluesy and sweet. At moments, Bobby would suddenly shift into focus for me, and things would get more real, if only briefly. So it was best to turn attention to the increasingly psychedelic images being projected on the screen, a healthful dose of the unreal to remind you where you stand. The audience sang along, but ahead of Bob, and I wondered a moment later if I didn’t hear it correctly, but then here they did it again – are they singing along with the album version playing in their heads? – things were getting weird, no question. This was a delicious version of “West L.A. Fadeaway.”

John Mayer then came out on stage to join in on guitar and vocals, something that had been a topic of discussion during the set break (and even before the show), rumors and detective work (hey, isn’t that his amp on stage, not being used?). Just try to keep that guy away. I love that he is clearly in this for the joy of it. He’s here because there’s nowhere else he’d prefer to be, and his energy transferred immediately to the crowd as the band went into “Jack Straw.” This was an excellent “Jack Straw,” and maybe I was a bit out of it, but there was a moment where I thought the song had ended and they were drifting toward something else, but it was back to “Jack Straw” that they went. Fantastic version, really, probably the high point of the show. And during the jam Bob switched to electric guitar. Bob switched back to acoustic for “Morning Dew.” Joining the band for this song was Matt Berninger on vocals for certain verses and sections. For a moment in my head I heard myself yammering from the future, having already written the review and letting myself know I could read it later (though when I got home, I found that wasn’t exactly the way it went or was to go, but no matter). They ended the second set with “I Know You Rider,” with Bob fooling with the lyrics a bit, coming in a bit early with the “headlight” line before correcting himself and singing “The sun’s gonna shine in back door someday.” It was a fun version. The second set ended at 10:36 p.m.

A minute later Bob came back on stage to perform “Ki-Yi Bossie” solo, introducing it by telling us we’d gone back to the range. Amy, the woman in front of me, had mentioned she wanted to hear that one before the show, and was understandably excited when he started it. It’s probably the most playful tune from the new album, and I love the line “I was looking for salvation, but nothing caught my eye.” The band, including John Mayer and Matt Berninger, then joined him again, and Bob introduced the band (with Mayer then introducing Bob). Bob stayed on acoustic guitar, and they went into “Peggy-O.” They then wrapped things up with my all-time favorite song, “Ripple.” The perfect ending to an excellent night. I couldn’t have asked for more. The show ended at 10:58 p.m.

Set List

Set I
  1. KC Moan
  2. Loose Lucy
  3. Blue Mountain
  4. Cottonwood Lullaby
  5. Lay My Lily Down
  6. Only A River
  7. Ghost Towns
  8. El Paso
  9. Gonesville
Set II
  1. Me And My Uncle
  2. Jack-A-Roe
  3. West L.A. Fadeaway
  4. Jack Straw
  5. Morning Dew
  6. I Know You Rider
  1. Ki-Yi Bossie
  2. Peggy-O
  3. Ripple 
I didn't take my camera with me because I knew I'd be dancing and didn't want to worry about it. So I tried a few shots with my phone, but I just can't get that little bugger to focus properly. It seems to have no interest in following my instructions. But hell, here are a few shots anyway.

"KC Moan"
"I Know You Rider"
"Ki-Yi Bossie"
Driving my friend home, the familiar turned strange, and the munchies really overcame me, so by the time I got to my place, I was interested only in snacking. First I ate all the rest of the cheese in the apartment (except the cream cheese), finishing off a giant bag of shredded cheddar, sharp, some of it falling onto the floor, and the counter, and into the sink, before moving on to a box of Mike And Ike, and then a bag of Mike And Ike (I hadn’t known that particular candy came in bags, but there it was). Still not satisfied, I made myself a peanut butter sandwich. Then I looked for more candy, finding a bag of M&Ms and eating them before devouring some peanuts. By then, I was systematically finishing off everything I had in the cupboards. It was like a little late-night project: clean the cupboards by eating everything they contained. And you know, it’s disappointing when these projects are left only partially completed.

No comments:

Post a Comment