Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Adam Ezra at Kiva House Concerts, 6-10-18 Concert Review

Adam Ezra performing "Yellow Brick Road"
I do not enjoy looking for things. If I can’t find something quickly, I figure the hell with it, it will turn up or it won’t. That’s what happened with my notes from the Adam Ezra concert I saw a month ago in Massachusetts. When I went to write my review, the notes were not where I expected them to be, and I figured they could have come loose from my clipboard anywhere between Massachusetts and Los Angeles. Someone in the Dallas airport might be reading them, assuming of course that anyone can read my handwriting. Well, last night the notes turned up. They were in an envelope with a CD I had been listening to. How did they get in there? No idea. But the concert was so good that I figured I’d write something now, using the small portions of the notes that I myself can make out (though mostly what I wrote was simply the set list, because I was enjoying the show too much to take copious notes) and my memory (those who know me well might be questioning the wisdom in trusting my memory, but hey, sometimes a slightly fictional account of a show can be just as enjoyable). Okay, enough of this rambling introduction.

My brother runs the Kiva House Concerts in Billerica, Massachusetts (just a bit outside of Boston). And he tries to book a show whenever I’m in town. This past trip, Adam Ezra did a solo show, and the weather was nice enough that the show was held outside in the back yard (rather than in the basement). And it was a phenomenal concert, with lots of positive vibes. It was a Sunday, and it also happened to be our parents’ wedding anniversary, but more on that in a bit. When Adam began the show, at 3:34 p.m., he mentioned he had no plans for the set list, and that people could shout out ideas. And indeed, they did. They were not shy about it. Several songs in the first set were requests, including “OK By You,” “Yellow Brick Road” and “Lonely Mile.” Also early in the first set, Adam played “The Toast,” and this he dedicated to our parents for their fifty-first anniversary. In the song, he urges, “Raise up your glasses/Let us drink to the wind at our backs.” It was an incredibly sweet moment. But really, the entire show was like that. It was intimate and friendly and wonderful. Not that every song was sweet, of course. He played “Something To Break,” mentioning that it’s an angry song, and that he just has to play it all the time these days. I think we all can understand that. “I wish I had something to break.” He played harmonica on “A Boy’s Song” and “Switching To Whiskey.” “Switching To Whiskey” is a somewhat new song that I love. The first set closed with a cover of “Sweet Baby James.” The first set ended at 4:36 p.m.

After a 35-minute break, he started the second set with “You Dance With Me,” which then led straight into “Corn Song.” The second set included some favorites like “Basement Song” and “Let Your Hair Down,” as well as a new song, “It Don’t Land.” He also did a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” I’ve heard a lot of artists cover this one over the past decade or so, and I’m always curious which verses they’ll do, and in what order. Leonard Cohen himself performed different verses on different tours over the years. Adam Ezra did five verses, starting with the “secret chord” verse and then the “kitchen chair” verse, the first two verses from the studio version heard on Various Positions (my personal favorite Leonard Cohen album). The other three verses he did were more recent ones, beginning with the “I’ve walked this floor” verse and following it with the “what’s really going on below” verse and finishing with the “maybe there’s a god above” verse. So basically, he performed all but one of the verses that Leonard Cohen did on that final tour (and in a slightly different order). And he did a really nice job with it. It was one of the highlights of the second set. He followed that with “Katie,” on which he played harmonica. He ended the second set with a cover of “Let It Be,” performing it unmiked in the middle of the audience. He broke a string and said, “Oh man, I really fucked this thing up,” and yet it was still a wonderful ending to the set. The second set ended at 6:20 p.m.

At that point, he told the crowd that he would do another set for anyone who wanted to stick around. This entire set, which started at 6:38 p.m., was performed unmiked and in the audience. It had a casual, intimate vibe. Hell, the whole show was intimate, but this set was particularly relaxed and fun. He opened it with “Flyin’” and at one point forgot some of the lyrics. The audience reminded him, and he responded, “You know this shit better than I do.” That was followed by “Shine” and then by a new song, which had a false start. He mentioned that it’s not quite out of the incubation stage yet. I don’t know the name of this song. My brother thinks it’s probably titled “When My Work Is Done.” The only lines I wrote down were “When I’ve come to meet my maker/When my work is done,” so that seems a fairly safe bet. Adam followed that with the crowd favorite “Sprig,” and then “She’s Just A Girl.” There was some audience participation on “Come On Over,” which wrapped up the third set. The show ended at 7:20 p.m. I’ve seen Adam Ezra only a few times, but this was absolutely the best of those shows. Apparently folks that have seen him a lot also remarked this was one of his best concerts.

Set List

Set I
  1. You Paint Me
  2. OK By You
  3. Yellow Brick Road
  4. The Toast
  5. All I Am
  6. Lonely Mile
  7. Rescue
  8. Something To Break
  9. A Boy’s Song
  10. Switching To Whiskey
  11. Sweet Baby James 
Set II
  1. You Dance With Me >
  2. Corn Song
  3. Kill Like This
  4. Glory Song
  5. Like An Angel
  6. It Don’t Land
  7. Basement Song
  8. Let Your Hair Down
  9. Hallelujah
  10. Katie
  11. I Believe
  12. Let It Be
  1. Flyin’
  2. Shine
  3. When My Work Is Done (title?)
  4. Sprig
  5. She’s Just A Girl
  6. Naïve Little Me
  7. Devil’s Side
  8. Come On Over
Here are a few photos from the show:

"A Boy's Song"
"Kill Like This"
"Basement Song"
"Let It Be"

And if you are interested in attending one of the Kiva House Concerts, here is the link to the site.

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