Last night, Brendan Benson entered the doors of Varsity Theater for the first time ever in his long career. Alongside him were the Huck Finn-era folks known as The Howling Brothers and inaugural artist of Brendan Benson’s Readymade Records, Young Hines.
I hadn’t previously known The Howling Brothers, but when I saw them take the stage I had a feeling I knew what they were going to sound like. Then, as they outfitted themselves with an upright bass, a bango, a harmonica and a guitar that had a second hole in it purely from extensive use, I knew with absolute certainty what I was about hear… some good old fashioned bluegrass. It was a refreshing set that brought my world back to the parlor days of the desperado (not that I was ever there). My favorite moment of the set was a cover of Sam Cooke‘s, “Bring It On Home To Me.”
Young Hines, which is actually his name, was a bit of a surprise to me because, although I have previous listened to his album, Give Me My Change, the energy and variety of sounds don’t shine the same way as they do at the live show. It’s no fault of producer, Brendan Benson. It just tends to be the way things are. You can’t capture the essence of a live show on a studio album, and even if it is live album, there is nothing quite like being there. Despite being disadvantaged by a smaller, slightly unreceptive crowd than I expected, Young Hines, played a good show. Highlights of Young Mr. Hines’ set included, “Rainy Day,” previously featured on MTIB, “I Ask This of You,” which featured the apt use of a megaphone, and the final track of his set, “Can’t Explode.” Both Sam and I agreed that “Can’t Explode” would make for a great song in a zombie movie… the few times in the song erupts into a headbanger of distorted guitars would be a good time for a montage of humans wrecking zombies.
Finally, we have Brendan, who is typically associated with a solid set seasoned with one or two ‘thank you’s between each song. However, on this particular Friday night, Mr. Benson was quite chatty, and pleasingly so. In spite of my love for Brendan’s music, which, if you don’t count that time my Dad took me to see Kenny Loggins when I was very young, dates back to the first concert I ever attended, I feel like I haven’t really met Brendan. I know that it sounds weird, but when I left the most recent Arctic Monkeys concert, I felt like I had a better idea of who Alex Turner is, with his goofy antics and generally chipper demeanor. With Brendan, I hadn’t felt that after 2 or 3 of his shows, but as he fumbled on the lyrics to “Cold Hands, Warm Heart” and mischievously pump faked the band into playing the intro for “Bad For Me” several times over, I found myself laughing along, realizing a new side to Brendan Benson. It was fantastic. Although, Brendan didn’t play the one song I desperately wanted to hear from the latest album, “No One Else But You,” he did play some longtime favorites including, “Good to Me,” “Sitting Pretty,” and “Hands” off supergroup, The Raconteurs‘ debut album, Broken Boy Soldiers. My suggestion would be, if you are ever given the chance to see Brendan Benson live, do it. His new approach may not have him playing each and every song to perfection, but creates an intimate and merry atmosphere you would find amongst friends just jamming and having fun… except in this case the friends would include Brendan Benson, Young Hines and The Howling Brothers, which likely makes for a more talented collaboration of musicianship.
Watch the few videos below that Sam/Joey K shot at the show.
Chuck Ryan – who has written 831 posts on MTIB. More commonly known as Adam Rondeau, Chuck founded Music That Isn't Bad in 2009, has an addiction to live music and in his free time trains seeing-eye dogs using old Phil Collins albums.
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