Concert Review: The Walkmen, Blood Feathers, A.A. Bondy @ Royale (10/7/10)

Bands: The Walkmen, A. A. Bondy, Blood Feathers
Venue: Royale [Boston, Massachusetts]
Date: Thursday, October 7, 2010

Blood Feathers – Rarely have I seen a first opening act rock and roll as hard as these guys did. Catchy numbers a plenty, it seemed as if Blood Feathers have been on the big stage many times before. Plus, all the band members seemed to be savoring every moment of their time up there.  It’s really hard to describe them other than rock and roll (a bit southern/Americana influenced I’d wager) — in this way they are somewhat comparable to The Dig, who opened for The Walkmen in 2009.

A. A. Bondy – Bondy and crew started their set loudly with a huge wall of sound coming from Bondy’s amp and another wall of darker, clearer sound coming from the amp of the keyboardist (turned bassist). After this little introduction, the guys went full force into finger-picking, pedal steel guitaring, and tight bass playing. Bondy is an expert guitar player and when he rocks out, he rocks out. There were some slow folk tunes and some faster and meatier ones that usually involved the pedal steel guy sitting behind the drum kit instead of the guitar. The latter were my favorite.

The Walkmen: Ah, yes, these guys. One my favorite bands of the last four years, The Walkmen put on an incredible show on this night. Kicking things off with Hamilton on electric, they played “Blue as Your Blood,” off of Lisbon, a song which they played early on in their 2009 set when it was kicking around as “The Sky Above.” What I noticed, starting with “Blue,” was that Lisbon is a million times better live than on record. That’s no offense to how they recorded the album, it’s just the whole being there thing. Next up, “Angela Surf City,” which some have placed alongside “The Rat” as top in the band’s “rocker” category. Ham might have broken his neck singing this one. I could tell he loves singing slowly and then slamming into the rather intense chorus. I was surprised that they followed up “Angela” with “In the New Year,” I mean doesn’t Ham need a little break before he strains his vocal chords? Of course, this is one of their best numbers and a personal favorite. Paul’s clicky guitar and Pete’s faint keyboard go so well with Ham’s vocals. “Canadian Girl” followed and noticeably absent was a horns section. Usually around this time, they would ease their way next to Paul, stand around, and then do their thing. The song was still great in their absence, I think Pete might have even programmed some little faux horns in his keyboards. “Victory” is a great live tune. They decided to change things up and go back to the old days on the next two songs, “The Blizzard of ’96” and “We’ve Been Had,” off of their debut Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone. Paul and Pete switched positions with Pete playing guitar and Paul playing the piano. It was super refreshing to see them dig deep into their catalog and play these lighter piano-driven ditties. Pete’s guitar parts were classic — the man looks very out of place playing the guitar…he makes a tin soldier look pliable. It was back to the battle as the guys reverted to their normal positions and played a string of numbers from their last two albums: “Donde Esta la Playa,” the especially fun “Woe is Me,” the bass heavy (credit Walt Martin) “On the Water,” the laidback Lisbon opener “Juveniles,” the orchestral-but-not-really-cause-there-are-no-horns  You and Me beat “I Lost You,” and the triangles-laden waltz “While I Shovel the Snow.” For everyone who went just to see “The Rat” (you know who you are), you had to wait thirteen songs. Good. It’s a great song and I love it as much as the next guy. Unexpectedly, it drew the greatest reaction from the packed crowd. Oh yeah and Pete was on bass for all those who care about things like that. The set ended with the band’s alternate version of A Hundreds Mile Off standout “All Hands & the Cook.” The best is the little break when Ham sings some really long note and then the other instrumentation comes in and ends the song. That ended the song’s set and despite an earlier plead from some girl in the crowd “Lost in Boston” never came next as it does on the record. After a few minutes of cheering, Ham and Paul emerged to perform “New Country.” The rest of the band came back on stage after this tune and we got to hear “Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone,” which they’ve been reviving recently. Great track! They closed their performance for good with their Mazarin cover of “Another One Goes By” and, indeed, another Walkmen Boston concert is in the books. Exemplary guitar play from Pete on this one as well.

Set-List
1. Blue as Your Blood – Lisbon
2. Angela Surf City – Lisbon
3. In the New Year – You and Me
4. Canadian Girl – You and Me
5. Victory – Lisbon
6. The Blizzard of ’96 – Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone
7. We’ve Been Had – EWPTLMIG
8. Donde Esta La Playa – You and Me
9. Woe is Me – Lisbon
10. On the Water – You and Me
11. Juveniles – Lisbon
12. I Lost You – You and Me
13. While I Shovel the Snow – Lisbon
14. The Rat – Bows and Arrows
15. All Hands & The Cook – A Hundred Miles Off
———Encore———
16. New Country – You and Me
17. Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone – EWPTLMIG
18. Another One Goes By – A Hundred Miles Off

Grade: A/A+

4 thoughts on “Concert Review: The Walkmen, Blood Feathers, A.A. Bondy @ Royale (10/7/10)

  1. Great show review captured it all ham worked hard he was covered with sweat just wish would acknowledge/enagage with more audience b/w songs A longer set would be nice too Lots of bands do just 18 or 19 songs but hold steady did like 23 at same locale the nite before

    1. Thanks guys.

      Certainly 20+ would have been awesome. An extra “Postcards From Tiny Islands” or “Thinking Of A Dream I Had” or two would have just added to the greatness. I think notoriously Ham and crew aren’t really talkers on stage. Last time I saw them Ham said they walked the Freedom Trail, which was great since he actually conversed.

  2. I might have imagined this, but I thought they played Stranded in between I Lost You and While I Shovel The Snow…either way, great show…

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