Words by: Chadbyrne R. Dickens | Images by: Karina Rykman and Joe Russo
God Street Wine :: 08.16.12 :: The Gramercy Theatre :: New York, NY
Full review below photo gallery!
Thomas Wolfe once wrote, “You can’t go home again.” The prolific author was proven wrong as one need to only listen to a God Street Wine lyric to define their first night of a highly anticipated three-show run at the Gramercy Theatre in New York. “And in the blinding light, you will see yourself again, and when you sleep tonight, this dream may never end, and though you don't know when you'll come home again.” The prolific jam juggernaut disbanded in 1999 after 13 years together, playing only ten shows since, including one with Bob Weir three days before this tour began. They were welcomed home by a nearly sold-out house of fervent fans.
The successful 90’s outfit, fan favorite to undergraduates across the land, is mostly known for their long extended jams, performing as part of the H.O.R.D.E. tour and opening for numerous powerhouse groups like The Allman Brothers Band. The original line-up of Lo Faber (lead vocals), Aaron Maxwell (lead vocals), Dan Pifer (bass), Tom “Tomo” Osander (drums), and Jon Bevo (keyboards) planned these shows almost two years after a similar string of reunion shows. Joining the original line-up was one-time replacement player Jason Crosby (keyboards/fiddle), with Lizzie Friel (vocalist, Reflections) and John Woody on percussion who joined in on “Wendy” and contributed thereafter. Backstage before the show, I asked the boys if the slew of shows serve as the band’s swan song or if future gigs were in the works: “We are on indefinite hiatus” said Lo Faber. Although his tone and the band’s reaction to his statement contained a somber tone, one must recall that the band used that exact terminology two years ago when asked the same question, only to resurface again to the delight of music fans.
|God Street Wine with Chad Dickens|
by Karina Rykman
The almost 500 strong crowd, near-capacity, was fully focused on the empty stage. The night was filled with much anticipation and promise, and the audience was a slightly more weathered and reserved one, with perhaps a bit more gray than the farewell show in the heyday at the Wetlands in 1999. However, there clearly were some Wino’s marking every moment and noting every nuisance in this incarnation of their favorite band. Naturally, the band opened on fire by bursting out with their most beloved song, “Nightingale.” Although not as tight as previous versions, one couldn’t help but bask in the memories of younger and more innocent days as this sweet interlude played.
|God Street Wine by Karina Rykman|
The varied set list selections satisfied both the old die-hard fans as well as the new, chomping at the bit to ascertain first-hand what the buzz was all about. Songs from the 1.99 Romances record included “Mile By Mile” and “The Ballroom”, while the first set was peppered with even older fare offerings, “Electrocute” and “Vanity Street.” After the first set warm-up, the band started to really groove and demonstrate how they once garnered such an impressive following. The second set saw the addition of multiple musicians sitting-in, and that unique GSW sound proved that the band still had it and hadn’t lost a beat after segueing into marriage and parenthood over the last decade. I asked if any band member listened to the old bootlegs in preparation for these performances and slowly each and every band member relented and claimed to do so. They indicated that it is the best way to learn a song’s foundation and the intricacies around it.
|God Street Wine by Karina Rykman|
After a 19 song two-set show, the 5 encores which included sporadic song selections and meticulous musicianship from the players, proved a delight for the crowd. The energetic encores included a cover of Harry Nilsson’s #1 song from 1971, “Without You” (later also a huge hit for diva, Mariah Carey) which segued into a surreal choice of “Twin Peaks Theme”, moving into the Talking Heads’, “Cross-eyed and Painless.” The show concluded with a rewarding rendition of “Get on the Train” which left everyone’s musical palette satiated and their hearts feeling light. This reunion show with God Street Wine provided a bastion of die-hard fans with an experience they will not forget. Home sweet home.
1: Nightingale, Vanity Street, Mile By Mile-> 615, Ballroom, Electrocute, Stranger, Weird Dream-> Imogene
2: Molly, Hungry Again, Stupid Hat, Wendy, Silver, Cheap Utah Blues, Hellfire-> Strange as it Seems, Warm in Here, Bring Back the News
E: Without You > Twin Peaks Theme> Upside Down-Inside Out-> Cross Eyed and Painless Get On the Train
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