Thursday, January 31, 2013

i've seen this trick before

The Lumineers show at DAR Constitution Hall last night was damn fine. The speed with which this band has moved from opener (over the summer they opened for OCMS here in D.C.) to headlining for a sold-out crowd of 3,700+ is amazing. As with most bands they’ve been around a lot longer than one might expect, and that’s clear when you watch the five-piece in action (three members are more original and played a few songs on their own). In particular, Wesley Schultz represents the face of the band, and his blazing light can carry this band a very long way. I know, it sounds like I don’t care about the rest of the band, but I do. What Shultz is to the Lumineers; Ketch Secor is to OCMS – the trick (not a bad trick) seen before. What this band has written is a nearly perfect album that mixes americana, folk, rock, strings, and harmonies that have been laid down by lots of bands over the last ten years. What the Lumineers managed to do is take all of that groundwork and build it up into ten songs that everyone can (and will) sing at every show, and that’s no mean feat. They had the (strangely diverse) crowd in a lather from the get-go and by about song four had cemented their place in the memories of the entire Hall. You won’t often see a band so tight in performance, playing to the crowd, and generally forcing you to be not only there, but to be a part of the show. (SPOILER ALERT for those who are randomly searching for reviews on Google – even though videos show it all.) The highest point of the show was when all five grabbed their instruments and marched through the crowd to the rear center platform above the boxes in the hall. From there they played a fully unplugged version of “Ho Hey” with everyone singing along; doesn’t get much better than that at any concert. If you’re headed to a show to see them, you won’t be disappointed. If you aren’t, figure out a way to go now – they won’t be in even 3,700-seat places any more.  My only nit to pick was that they did another version of “Ho Hey” toward the end of the show. I felt they might have overreached there – leave us wanting more. The unplugged version was more than enough. Where do they rank for shows? In the great category, but not the top – simply because my top shows all have more personal depth to me and my life. I say that as a way to justify not having their set at the top, and the other five are truly spectacular.

I was in one of DAR’s boxes last night – they seat five, pretty nice but no more expensive than other seats – and chatted with a couple between the opener and the Lumineers. We were talking about other bands on the rise out there (yes, dorky) and I told them about John Fullbright who is out on tour right now opening for G. Love and Special Sauce. She laughed about the G. Love reference because apparently she’d hung out with him after a show at her college any number of years ago. I told her that this was clearly her ‘brush with greatness’, but her boyfriend (husband?) disagreed. She looked a bit confused at his insistence until he pointed out to her that she’d been on the front page of newspapers worldwide in 1978. She’d been held as a child by the Pontiff, in Rome, on the first day of John Paul II’s tenure. Oh, yeah, that too. G. Love and Special Sauce or the Pope? Hmmm.

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