Favorite

Live 

Lambchop, Howe Gelb, Club Congress, May 6

Lambchop's first Tucson performance was a hushed and delicate affair—no surprise, considering the mellow frequency on which Kurt Wagner's gorgeous and off-kilter songs live.

Even for a band that tours infrequently, it's a surprise that two decades and 11 albums hadn't previously brought the Nashville band to Tucson, especially considering Wagner has collaborated with opener Howe Gelb. But credit the rarity of the show for the crowd's near total silence, full attention and warm appreciation.

Impressively quiet yet full and intricately textured, the sound of Lambchop is unmatched anywhere—alt-country intertwined with lounge-jazz that lets Wagner's restrained warble flitter about.

Arranged in a semicircle, Wagner, pianist Tony Crow, keyboardist/guitarist Ryan Norris, bassist Matt Swanson and drummer Scott Martin packed the first part of the show with nearly the entirety of Mr. M, the band's new, excellent album. Dedicated to the late Vic Chesnutt, Wagner's friend and fellow songwriter, Mr. M is perhaps definitive in showcasing how Wagner can sustain a quiet melancholy that grows more rewarding the closer you listen. Songs like "If Not I'll Just Die," "2B2," "Gone Tomorrow" and "The Good Life (Is Wasted)" are filled with memorable lines and careful details—impressionistic and inscrutable at the same time.

After reaching into the back catalog for a couple songs—"Interrupted" (1998) and "My Blue Wave" (2002)—Wagner jokingly asked the crowd if they were depressed yet, then introduced the next tune, "N.O." as a "big fucking bummer." Then came the bathroom-suicide song "Soaky in the Pooper" and the encore of "Magnificent Obsession," both even darker.

Ahead of Lambchop was Gelb, first solo on the piano, and then backed by some of the newest members of his expanded Giant Giant Sand, including Brian Lopez and Gabriel Sullivan, both on guitar. Previewing songs from his forthcoming album, a "country rock opera," the band took a ramshackle approach to new tunes like "Forever and a Day."

Howe turned the mic over to Lopez and Sullivan for a song apiece before announcing surprise guest vocalist KT Tunstall (the Scottish singer is in town to record her latest album) for a charmingly unrehearsed but passionate cover of The Band's "Out of the Blue," dedicated to the late Levon Helm.

More by Eric Swedlund

  • Light the Match

    Sedona’s own decker. kicks out a fiery new album
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • Liberate, Create!

    A trio of skilled songsmiths generate a new folk-rock
    • Apr 13, 2017
  • Preaching the Bad Testament

    Scott H. Biram—the original Dirty Old One Man Band—is back in the pulpit
    • Apr 6, 2017
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Noise Annoys

    Baby Gas Mask, absurdist soul and prog, plus Chaka!
    • Oct 13, 2016
  • Know Your Product

    Stars pick their top five! This week: J Lugo Miller
    • Nov 17, 2016

Latest in Live

  • Noise Annoys

    Baby Gas Mask, absurdist soul and prog, plus Chaka!
    • Oct 13, 2016
  • B-Sides: DJQ

    MUSIC AS POETRY
    • Jul 28, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Vintage Vinyl

    Quinstrels "I've Got a Girl"/"Tell Her" Moxie Records M.R.C.—1965
    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Vintage Vinyl

    The Frozen Sun “Electric Soul”/”Electric Soul” (long version) Captain Zoomar Records, 1969
    • Jun 29, 2017
  • More »

Facebook Activity

© 2017 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation