Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lost Weekend :: Buffalo Tom's 25th Anniversary |November 25th-27th

When it was announced earlier this fall that Buffalo Tom would celebrate 25 years together with 3 successive shows at Brighton Music Hall my first thought was I have to go to at least one of those shows, but was hoping to make all three. Well I split the difference and attended two, Friday and Sunday, both were remarkable with the band offering varying sets and inspired performances each night.

Thanks to an older sibling with penchant for drilling whatever he liked into his little brothers head, sometime around 1990-91, I was introduced to Buffalo Tom with their sophomore release Birdbrain. Within about 10 seconds of hearing that albums title track, I was hooked and have followed the bands every move for nearly all of their 25 years so my excitement for these shows was palpable, to say the least.

Friday/Night #1:This seemed to be the must see show of the three, largely due to the evenings special guests. Early arrivals were treated to a brief but hilarious set from Eugene Mirman (Bob's Burgers, Flight of The Concords) to start the evening. Comedy at a rock show can be a dicey proposition, but Mirman managed to win the room over with wit and sharp retorts for a few inebriated hecklers. It's inexplicable that after many years of buying Ted Leo's records I had never seen him before. With just a guitar and his far reaching voice, Leo ran through a cherry picked set that featured highlights of his back catalog and a stunning cover of Uncle Tupelo's Whiskey Bottle. Leo let the crowd know early on that he was suffering from voice/throat issue and was treating it with a concoction of hot sauce and Jameson's. As nausea inducing as that sounds, it must have done the trick because he delivered a passionate performance highlighted by his considerable vocal range and gave no hint of his current ailment. The room was at capacity with a mix of die hard 40 and 30 year olds as well as 20 somethings when the weekend's unofficial emcee, Mike O'Malley (Glee, Yes, Dear) ushered Buffalo Tom on stage. Within seconds of Bill Janovitz striking the opening chords of Velvet Roof the room erupted, with the woman standing next to me going into what can only be described as a Buffalo Tom induced seizure. Over the next two hours the band ran through an impassioned and energetic set with assistance from some notable friends. Former Throwing Muses, Breeders, and Belly songstress, Tanya Donelly provided vocals on a few songs which included a chilling version of Let Me Come Over's , Frozen Lake as well as Don't Forget Me from Buffalo Tom's 2011 release Skins . Former Fuzzy members Hilken Mancini and Chris Toppin provided harmony vocals on a couple of tracks and returned to provide backing vocals along with Donelly on Treehouse. Mike Gent of The Figgs and The Gentlemen arrived on stage to provide acoustic guitar and backing vocals to Arise, Watch and the Mike O' Malley sung The Seeker, I'm a sucker for a good Who cover and that certainly qualified. Arguably the nights most anticipated guest Dinosaur Jr.'s, J. Mascis joined the the band for a few of the nights best moments, which included some of the material he produced with the band, Birdbrain, Impossible, and Sunflower Suit. He would return later to assist in closing out the show for a blistering rendition of Neil Young's, Cortez The Killer. Much of the capacity crowd lingered afterwards completely awestruck by the mesmerizing performance we had all just witnessed. Sunday couldn't come soon enough.

Buffalo Tom @ Brighton Music Hall November 25th,2011
Velvet Roof
Kitchen Door
I'm Allowed
Three Easy Pieces
Impossible w/ J. Mascis
Sunflower Suit w/ J. Mascis
Birdbrain w/ J. Mascis
Frozen Lake w/ Tanya Donelly
It's You w/ Tanya Donelly
Don't Forget Me w/ Tanya Donelly
Reason Why w/ Ted Leo
Late At Night
Darl w/ Hilken Mancini
Your Stripes w/ Chris Toppin
Treehouse w/ Tanya Donelly, Chris Toppin, & Hilken Mancini
Taillights Fade
Arise, Watch w/ Mike Gent
The Seeker w/ Mike O' Malley & Mike Gent
Cortez The Killer w/ J. Mascis

Sunday/Night #3: Former Come, Uzi, and Live Skull member Thalia Zedek opened the evening with an impressive set of dissonant guitar, violin, and throbbing rhythms, showcasing her stark and melancholic work with The Thalia Zedek Band. The third and final night of Buffalo Tom's 25th Anniversary promised to be another special of night of guitar crunch and the bands understated but potent pop hooks. Although the band sent out a message via their Facebook page that there would be fewer guest and they would play a slightly shorter set. That announcement did not deter the nearly sold-out Sunday crowd from coming out on a school night, nor did it stop the band from delivering another exuberant set with a few surprises. Including a few return appearances, including The Figgs fronter, Mike Gent providing guitar and vocals to Fortune Teller. Mean Creek's Chris Keene joined the band for Would Not Be Denied and his band mate Aurore Ounjian provided backing vocals (and tambourine) on Soda Jerk. Janovitz let us know that the pair were at a party down the street and didn't realize they were expected for night 3, as the band played an opening set on Saturday. Chalk it up to rock and roll confusion, luckily for us they made it and contributed fine performances. The angel voiced Tanya Donelly returned to provide vocals to a few songs including Torch Singer, a track we were pining to hear and it did not disappoint. The band paid a fitting tribute to their late friend and ardent Boston music supporter, Billy Ruanne on Larry.

Although the lists of spacial guests was truncated and the band shortened their set by just one song compared to Friday's 22 songs, Buffalo Tom delivered an exhilarating set and reminded me and probably many of you of not just how important they have been over the years, but how absolutely essential they continue to be. I'd urge anyone who hasn't done so already to pick up the bands last couple of records, Three Easy Pieces and this years superb, Skins, both records are deserving of your attention. Here's hoping they do this again next year.

Buffalo Tom @ Brighton Music Hall November 27th, 2011
Arise, Watch w/ Mike Gent
Fortune Teller w/ Mike Gent
Sunday Night
Kitchen Door
Would Not Be Denied w/ Chris Keene of Mean Creek
Soda Jerk w/ Aurore Ounjian of Mean Creek
Torch Singer w/ Tanya Donelly
Don't Forget Me w/ Tanya Donelly
It's You
Late At Night
Velvet Roof
Taillight Fade
The Seeker w/ Mike O'Malley and Mike Gent
Frozen Lake w/ Tanya Donelly
There was a professional video crew filming these shows and we assume they'll be a DVD release, until then be sure to check out this video from this weekends perfomaces.

Credits: Set list information courtesy of Michael Piantigini @ Clicky Clicky Music

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