Saturday, September 29, 2012

Will Johnson & Anders Parker; September 29, 2012; Off Broadway, St Louis

Another bus, another city. It was nice to find out that not only is it pretty comfy, but Greyhound can be just as cheap as the Megabus, my ticket from Champaign to St Louis was only $5. After only seeing Will and Anders in my basement and unamplified for the last several years, it felt weird to be seeing them in a club, especially one as big as Off Broadway. They had chairs set up, which prevented some awkward standing around, and we went right up to the front row. Why not? Unfortunately Ryan Adams, best sound guy in St Louis and sometime Ha Ha Tonka tour manager who I absolutely adore, was not working tonight since his band was playing, but I will grudgingly admit this guy was pretty awesome.

Anders and Will played a couple songs together and then in the professionalism borne of having spent eighteen straight days of shows on the road together, did rock, paper, scissors to determine who would play first, or was it second? Neither seemed quite sure what “winning” meant. In the end, Anders stayed and Will left. It’s always a bit of a surprise at first to hear Anders sing, the giant of a man has a surprisingly gentle and beautiful voice. He played some new songs in addition to the gorgeously addictive “Dust to Dust” and the perfect “That Song.” They switched spots and Will showcased songs slated for the upcoming Centromatic record, some of which he had played at the house in the spring, all of which sound great. He also played a couple from the New Multitudes record which he and Anders had recorded with Son Volt’s Jay Farrar and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. His “Chorine My Sheba Queen” steals the show on record and was pretty devastating live.

They were both delighted to see us, having half expected us in Chicago the night before. Anders admitted it wasn’t until after the tour was already booked that he looked at the schedule carefully and realized not only were there not any days off, but there was also no Madison stop. He hinted that he may be back early next year with Kendall Meade in support of a record they were doing together. Will hoped he would be seeing me in the spring as part of what has become an annual living room tour. I gave an enthusiastic yes to both.

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