Words by: Nick D'Amore
Yo La Tengo :: 12.06.07 :: Maxwell's :: Hoboken, NJ
Third show's the charm, a night that will probably go down in Yo La Tengo Hanukkah run history. The band gave an inspired and otherworldly performance on the third night of its 2007 Hanukkah celebration at the legendary Maxwell's. Perhaps inspired by a tight and energetic opening set from long time friends The dB's, Yo La Tengo dusted off some ancient tunes and incorporated some great cover choices. By end of the night, which had already been incredible, the band brought on My Morning Jacket's Jim James to ensure an unforgettable performance.
| Chris Stamey with Yo La Tengo :: 12.06 :: Hoboken|
Yo La Tengo opened with the surreal funk of Sun Ra's "Nuclear War," which got the crowd in a party mood, as did the funky reworking of the Yo La Tengo classic "Autumn Sweater." Guitarist-singer Ira Kaplan then brought on guitarist Chris Stamey of The dB's for "No Water" from Yo La Tengo's second album, New Wave Hot Dogs, on which Stamey had played guitar 20 years ago. Two other members of The dB's, bassist Gene Holder and drummer Will Rigby, hopped onstage for the obscure Bob Dylan tune, "I Wanna Be Your Lover." Stamey rocked the organ, while Holder joined Kaplan on guitar. Rigby and Yo La Tengo drummer-singer Georgia Hubley bashed away in a cacophonous version of the song, which the band covered on the I'm Not There movie soundtrack.
They then launched into a few YLT classics, starting with fan favorite "Tom Courtenay" and ending with a hair-raising, ear-splitting "I Heard You Looking," an extended instrumental from the 1993 album Painful. Beginning with a clean, quiet melody, the band ascended to a noisy, ecstatic peak with Kaplan conjuring wild sounds from his guitar while Hubley and bassist-singer James McNew forcefully pushed the rhythm. In this one song the band displayed its brilliance: three musicians with the ability to simultaneously play heartbreakingly sweet melodies and head-ringing noise improvisations.
| Jim James with Yo La Tengo :: 12.06 :: Hoboken|
Giving themselves (and the audience) a chance to recover from the aural assault, the band walked through the crowd (there is no backstage at Maxwell's) to raucous cheers. They soon returned with Stamey to perform the Yardbirds' classic "Heart Full Of Soul." Kaplan then summoned Jim James to the stage and, in tribute to Jewish songwriters, they performed Neil Diamond's "Solitary Man," with James singing "secret agent man" during the final chorus, which naturally led into a terrific cover of "Secret Agent Man." Completing the tribute, Yo La Tengo and James closed the set with an excellent version of Kiss' "Hard Luck Woman."
Nuclear War (Sun Ra), Five Cornered Drone (Crispy Duck), The Race Is On Again, Autumn Sweater, The Weakest Part, Mr. Tough, No Water (with Chris Stamey on guitar), I Wanna Be Your Lover (Bob Dylan) (with CS on organ, Gene Holder on guitar, Will Rigby on 2nd drums), Cast A Shadow (Beat Happening) (with GH and WR on drums), Don't Have To Be So Sad (with WR), Tom Courtenay, Styles of the Times, Watch Out For Me, Ronnie, I Heard You Looking (with Peter Holsapple of The dB's on organ).
Encore: Heart Full of Soul (The Yardbirds) (with CS), The Question (Will Rigby) (with WR), Solitary Man (Neil Diamond) (with Jim James on vocals and guitar), Secret Agent Man (P.F. Sloan/Steve Barri) (with JJ), Hard Luck Woman (KISS) (with JJ)
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