Thursday, April 24, 2014

Leo & Anto; April 24, 2014; Kiki's House of Righteous Music

I’ll be honest; I usually book things for me, but this show I booked specifically for my sister Liz and our friend Marcus.  The Saw Doctors is their favorite band, so when two of the members decided to do a series of small clubs and house concerts, they encouraged me to contact the booker.  As expected, they both loved it, but I was surprised how much I loved it.  I can’t imagine a more genuine pair, Leo Moran may have said “Thanks a million” a million times, but he meant it every time.  They had gotten into Madison the night before and Anto Thistlethwaite had called to see if I wanted to come meet them for a drink.  I can see doing that if they knew me, but they didn’t.  They were delighted with soundman Ron Dennis, who’s the best and most thorough sound guy I know, and that’s exactly why I asked him.  I was worried they might be high maintenance, their stage set-up sheet was the most specific I’d seen for a house concert, but they were the opposite. 

They’ve released two CDs of their own, Flyin’ It and Pushin’ It, on which they revisit a few Saw Doctors songs, but also feature many new songs.  I was surprised by how many Saw Doctors songs they did.  As he does on the CD, Anto covered Leo’s “Share the Darkness,” which he calls “his second favorite song that Leo’s ever written.  I wanted to do my favorite song of his, “All Kinds of Girls Make My Willy Go Hard,” but Leo doesn’t remember how it goes.”  Probably for the best.  They also did the title track to Villains, a true folk song on which they ponder who the real bad guys are.  The beautiful “True Love Stays with You Forever” was a treat, while “Tommy K,” which features its own dance that Liz and Marcus were happy to demonstrate, may have been the biggest surprise.  The night ended with the timeless “Clare Island” complete with sing-along and stroll around the basement.

In between were dozens of songs I’d never heard before, but that were instantly memorable.  Another Woody Guthrie moment came from the credit union song.  It’s a place where “they treat you like a person, not a pimple” and you could get a home renovation loan without anyone getting hurt.  “All credit!” Leo would sing, and we’d all answer back “You said it!”  “Carmel Mannion’s Son” came complete with an involved story, though not as long as the one that preceded their cover of Dylan’s “Most of the Time” wherein Anto was called upon to get Bob Dylan high, and a strange evening ensued.  Apparently, most of that story was true, or so they said.  

There were some notable folks in the audience tonight.  I’ve done 120 plus shows, and this was the first one my mom attended, thanks to another sister who drove down from Minnesota and didn’t give her a choice.  She may have thought it silly before, but I think she gets it now.  There were also many Irish ex-pats in the house, which was apparently more than expected.  Leo roundly made fun of the fact that the Irish are never on time for a show, due to their tendency to spend too much time in the pub beforehand.  “I’ve never had any other nationality ask for a song that’s already been played,” Leo mused.  When they protested he asked, “Who were the last people to arrive tonight?”  I was impressed he’d noticed.  There was much good natured ribbing between the performers too, mostly about the fact that an Irishman and an Englishman were getting along.  There’s more to Anto’s story than just being the bass player for the Saw Doctors for the last dozen years, he’s also a founding member of the Waterboys and played saxophone and mandolin with them.  He played both tonight, as well as guitar.  I am pretty sure that was the first sax in the basement.  Toward the end of the evening he did the Waterboys’ “Fisherman’s Blues,” which may have been my favorite song he did all night.  I told him about seeing Ted Leo sing it once, which he thought was pretty cool, even though he had no idea who Ted Leo was.

I haven’t been nervous about a show in a long time, but I was surprisingly nervous about this one.  I shouldn’t have been, they couldn’t have been more charming or grateful.  I’m pretty sure they will do it again sometime.

after the show...

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