Words by: Craig Willard
Golden Smog :: 09.18.06 :: Paradise Lounge :: Boston, MA
Every few years, when the weather is just right, the stars are aligned, and the cows in Minneapolis have all been tipped over, Golden Smog reappears to bestow upon us the gift of music, mirth, and murder (no, really - they killed a few classic rock songs Monday). Such has been the setting in select cities (count 'em - 8), among them the Paradise Lounge in Boston, Mass. The Paradise has seen its share of up-and-coming acts, as well as established veterans swinging through on feel good tours.
The Smog rolled in with the recent release of their fourth effort, Another Fine Day (Lost Highway). I tried to ignore feedback from other dates (this being the next-to-last of the drive), so I had no idea who would be opening. As it turned out, a familiar face was in the mix, with Tim O'Reagan starting up the night. It should also be pointed out here that for whatever reason, be it poor promo or the recent return of the cool kids to college (Paradise sits between Boston College and Boston University), there was virtually no line outside, which came as a surprise considering the potential for a show of this nature. A quick headcount inside backed this up. Howerver, those that were in attendance, were aficionados of the No Depression movement, spurring Tim on through a nice set, which featured a short visit from pal Dan Murphy.
Golden Smog came out in high spirits and proceeded to play straight through the show with no breaks. Showing off their talents, the members switched up every once in a while, with Gary Louris moving from his Gibson SG to bass with Murphy moving to acoustic, while at other times, Kraig Johnson decided there needed to be two men dueling on pianos. O'Reagan came back out for an obvious but welcome mini-Jayhawks reunion, which was received warmly. Throughout the set, Louris and Co. were determined to get a solid version of Clapton's "Lay Down Sally," meandering between songs as guitars were tuned and drinks consumed. The song was finally worked through in the encore, as well as compelling versions of "Slow Ride," "Don't Fear the Reaper," "Cocaine," Led Zep teases, and a few other broken bridges. Good times.
Gary Louris - Golden Smog by Enric Nonell
I suppose the only real complaint for the night was the sound tech, who missed obvious cues when instrument changes were made or guests came up for support. This resulted in barely-heard solos by Murphy, monitors being too low for Marc Perlman, and a small sense of frustration as a whole. The venue itself (easily accessible on the Green Line B) boasts three levels, with practically no bad line of sight from anywhere (except for the big column in the middle of the room). And bars are conveniently located seemingly everywhere. A quick meal in their cabaret lounge is a pre-show must, with every item being $5. A whole damn white pizza - $5. But I digress...
Smog touched on all the songs that made us love them, as well as the obligatory 'Hawks songs. Some patrons half-expected to see the musings of the Foxtrotted one, but that was not to be, as when the new disc came out, Jeff Tweedy had been called away to tour with some other band for which he works. These things happen. Surprisingly, the median age for this show was in the low-thirties, where I would have expected a larger college age audience (given again, the proximity of two schools). Golden Smog loved them just the same and reflected on how everyone was having such a great time. Among the highlights from the show were "V," "Jennifer Save Me," "He's A Dick," and "Corvette." "Little Joe," a song that features Tweedy on the album, was brought out to kick off the encore. Louris, with just a spotlight on him, explored this tune with a plaintive ease that may have begged for that missing harmony. Great tune nonetheless. With this tour being such a short one and the camaraderie that's present between the bird boys, I would not be surprised to see a Jayhawks tour on the horizon. Golden Smog's triumphant return to Bostonia was a treat for all. Hopefully it won't be another eight years till the next date.
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