I have been waiting to see Wayne Everett play a concert near me for some time now. When I heard that Wayne would be playing with Absinthe Blind, one of my favorite bands, in Illinois, I decided I would make the five hour trek. Let me tell you, neither disappointed. Having arrived in Urbana at about 5:00pm, I anxiously awaited the beginning of the first note from Wayne. One thing about the Cowboy Monkey, it was a very, very nice club. The stage was inlaid in the back wall and had both excellent lighting and sound. The sound man was also very good, making the mix perfect in my opinion. The gig began at 10:00pm with a band called Somebody, Uh Oh!. Unfortunately, I did not catch the first band since I was catching up a bit with Wayne, whom I had not seen in about 10 years. When Everybody, Uh Oh! finished, Wayne headed on in to begin his set.
Wayne was accompanied by Jeremy Wood on electric guitar, keyboard and drum machine. For those of you who do not know, Jeremy toured as a percussionist with The Prayer Chain on the Mercury tour. Wayne played acoustic guitar and of course sang. Before I get to the specifics, here’s the set list.
A Million Leaves (Kingsqueens)
Lucky Skies (Kingsqueens)
Three Cheers for Waterloo (The Lassie Foundation: El Dorado Blue Sub Records Version)
Changn’ Your Name (Kingsqueens)
She’s the Coming Sun (The Lassie Foundation: Dive Bomber EP)
I Can See Jail (Kingsqueens)
As a rather avid fan of Wayne‘s work, I could not have been happier with this set. I also really liked hearing the songs in a new format. The acoustic format really lends itself to Wayne‘s solo songs and they used a drum machine for the Lassie songs which filled them out nicely. Jeremy did a fantastic job with backing vocals. I was quite impressed with Jeremy‘s ability to accent the songs with subtlety, never taking away from Wayne‘s performance. Wayne‘s vocals went beyond my expectations. He is a fantastic vocalist live and he has great charisma on stage. Highlights for me were “Three Cheers” and “Chalk”, two of my favorite songs.
Immediately following Wayne‘s set, Absinthe Blind set up to play. Having seen them recently and becoming a rather ardent fan of theirs, I looked forward to watching them play again. What I did not expect was that their set would surely blow away their set I heard at Top Cats in Cincinnati only a short while before. The sound was exponentially better and they played a good deal of new songs which were impressive. If these songs are any indication of what is to follow Rings, I look greatly forward to purchasing that disc. Anyway, I digress. Here is that evening’s set list:
Behind The Volumes of Noise (new song)
The Crowd That Loved Us Back When (new song)
The Break (Rings)
Walls Covered in Hope (Rings)
Winning Is Our Business and Business Is Good (new song)
She Saves/Now I’m Where I Need To Be (Rings)
One thing I noticed about the set was Brent‘s bass work on the new songs. He did not write anything on Rings and is a relatively new member of the band, but his contributions on the new songs is noticeable. The bass lines were intricate, yet not overpowering or too busy. He accents the band’s writing well. Also, I began to play closer attention to Tristan‘s guitar work. He is a phenom! I would say that he is easily at the level or approaching the level of “The Doc‘s” (The Prayer Chain, Cush, The Violet Burning, etc.) abilities, yet he has his own style. He has fantastic control sonically and can create walls of sound that are amazing. Seth seemed more subdued than the first time I saw him, but he is a solid drummer and really keeps things moving. Finally, Erin and Adam delivered as usual. Their haunting, melodious vocals harmonize with each other perfectly.
What a combination: Wayne Everett and Absinthe Blind. A night of acoustic pop mixed with sonically pleasing space rock! I drove far and, frankly, I would certainly do it again. It was worth every drop of fuel and every second expended in travel. If you have any chance, catch both artists. If you are even luckier, catch them together. You won’t be disappointed.