Words & Images by: Morgan Harris
Ween :: 01.24.08 :: Toad's Place :: Richmond, VA
Ween is an acquired taste. For many it becomes difficult to wade through the juvenile humor or weave around the inside jokes, but for those who are willing to dive head first into Brown Town, there is nothing more fulfilling than an evening of salacious rock courtesy of Deaner and Gener.
Walking into Toad's Place, I sensed an overwhelming rightness about the venue. It was made for Ween. I worked my way into the sold-out crowd, which perfectly reflected Ween's music: incredibly diverse, passionately weird and ready for a laugh.
Assisted by the boisterous audience, Ween set the tone for the night with a quick "HIV Song." Following the punchy opener was an upbeat run of songs capped off by a nine-minute "Voodoo Lady" featuring some of Deaner's best shredding of the evening, a cigarette firmly lodged in the headstock and bare left foot operating the pedal board. They mellowed it out for a bit with "Your Party," which features David Sanborn blowing cheese-sax on their latest release La Cucaracha. While the recorded version leans on the horn, live keyboardist Glen McClelland held down some jazzy riffs on the Rhodes that made you forget the saxophone legend was even on the album.
Ween kept up the subdued jazz feel with a ten-minute "Pandy Fackler," which featured McClelland's most moving ivory stroking of the night. He switched off between piano, Rhodes and synth, and even played more than one keyboard simultaneously, creating an array of varied and interesting textures.
|Claude Coleman - Ween :: 01.24|
Rather than plowing through all the new La Cucaracha material, Ween opted for a mix of old classics reminiscent of the Live at Stubb's release topped with a sprinkling of the gems from the new album. "My Own Bare Hands" was heavier than the album version, making even the preceding "Baby Bitch" sound like a Dave Matthews tune.
The guitar meltdown of "Woman and Man" preceded a nice aquatic section featuring The Mollusk's title tune and "Ocean Man" back-to-back. After we surfaced, Ween took us back in time with "Fat Lenny" and "Dr. Rock." "Fiesta," the mariachi-rock (I never thought I'd put those two words in the same sentence) track from La Cucaracha kicked off the 25-minute encore. Ween then pulled out the early classics "Big Jilm" and "Sorry Charlie" to follow live staple "Booze Me Up and Get Me High," whose lyrics rang true with the crowd on cloud nine. An extended "Fluffy" from 1996's 12 Golden Country Greats capped off the show in poignant instrumental triumph. Like "Rosebud" in Citizen Kane, it was the only way it could end.
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