Tuesday, July 28, 2009

M. Ward for President!

Photo credit here. Unfortunately, photos were strictly prohibited last night, so I have none of my own.

Last night I headed up to the 40 Watt Club in Athens with both "R's" from the R&R Review to see M. Ward perform. While I have been a fan of his music for a while (OK, probably only a year and a half, but long enough), I had not seen him perform. As it turned out, the three of us, all the hipsters in the 40 Watt, were in for a treat.

Doors opened at 9:00 and after a delicious pizza dinner at Little Italy Pizzeria in downtown Athens ($1 for 12-oz. Terrapin Rye draught?? What??) we headed over to the 40 Watt. As we were walking, a small guy escorted by three girls started walking in front of us, and ever the astute observer, Chris Robinson pointed out to BA Roof and myself that the guy about 10 feet in front of us was, in fact, M. Ward himself. This seemed to be a good omen.

We got to the 40 Watt around 9:30, went in, and Chris Robinson armed all of us with 24 oz. cans of PBR and we waited for the opening band, the Moaners to go on. They finally started playing around 9:45 and was made up of just two girls in what might be considered an all-female White Stripes set up with just a guitar and drum kit. They were really pretty terrible, and were hopefully picked to serve as a foil for M. Ward and to make his performance seem even more incredible (not that he needed it).

M. Ward took the stage around 10:45 and opened with a solo performance of "Never Had Nobody Like You." I was immediately impressed by how fantastic his vocals were. They smooth and spot on, and sounded just like on the albums. Considering his stature, it was fairly impressive that that voice came from him. After the first song, his band joined him with nary a word and they got to work. They played a back-to-back-to-back set and only paused long enough between songs to switch/tune instruments before they started the next song. They only played until midnight (about an hour and 15 minutes), but managed to perform an impressive 19 songs. The setlist, obtained from this blog was as follows:

–Never Had Nobody Like You
–Fuel for Fire
–Post War
–Hold Time
–Poor Boy, Minor Key
–Poison Cup
–Stars of Leo
–To Save me
–One Hundred Million Years
–Fool Says
–Big Boat
–Guitar intro/Fisher of Men
–To Go Home
–Chinese Translation
–Rave On
–Roll Over Beethoven
–Magic Trick (encore)
–Vincent O’Brien (encore)

Aside from M. Ward's impressive vocals, I think I was even more surprised by just how talented of a guitar player he is. It was really awesome watching him play, and his bandmates were quite good as well. Overall, it was a really fun concert. After the few quiet songs towards the beginning of the set, the rest was just rock 'n' roll, and the audience loved it. I have to say that it may be the most fun concert that I have been to, and "fun" is not usually a word that I use to describe concerts, no matter how much I like them.

On one critical note, while discussing the concert on the way back to Atlanta, the R's and I concluded that the two encores were really a bit over the top and bordered on pretentious. Plus, in all of the time that was wasted with pretending to take a bow (twice) and going backstage and whatnot, they could have played at least one more song, which I think the audience would have appreciated even more. However, it was a pretty fantastic show and definitely worth the late night last night.

**Note: I would like to thank Christopher Robinson for generously giving me the extra ticket he had. I owe him one after that show. Also, speaking of R&R, I would like to promote the beef that they are attempting to start with Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman. Mr. Gleiberman asserts that anyone who found the movie Bruno to be disgusting or offensive is nothing more than a homophobe, and the R's (and myself, for that matter), believe this to be false. Check it out here.


Charles said...

I've bought a slew of CDs recently and M. Ward's newest is one of the best. I'm going to need to go a little deeper into his catalog. Looks like he's been cranking for a while. Did a bit of googling only to find that he hit town here in April. My loss.

One of my favorite things about the way the industry has gone and about younger musicians is that they understand that touring is a MAJOR part of the job. For years after the Beatles many musicians must have thought that they should be able to live off royalties from album sales. Those days are over. People used to tour to support their albums. Now I wonder if albums aren't released to support the tour.

The Cordial Churchman said...

Thanks for the review. I'm a huge fan, and I think I own just about all his records at this point. It's really hard to imagine my music-listening life pre- M. Ward. Only thing comparable was when I discovered U2 in 1999 or so.

If I'd have realized he came this close to Charlotte (he didn't actually COME to Charlotte, I hope!?), I'd have come to Athens for the show.

Thanks also for the reminder that Hem is out with a new record. My emusic downloads have refreshed, so it'll be on my iPod in time for the afternoon treadmill.