Pete Yorn/Ben Kweller: Howlin

Despite being “sicker than a dog”, Pete Yorn pulled himself up by his bootstraps and gave 120 percent without ever blinking an eye nor giving in to whatever illness was ailing him on this steamy hot night in a packed-house old venue that is beloved by many in the Crescent City. But when all was said and done, Pete, along with his bandmates, walked off that stage dripping wet with satisfied sweat.

But it didn’t start off that way. Prior to the doors opening, a sign was posted that opener Ben Kweller’s flight had been delayed and he would therefore be performing AFTER Pete’s set. Moans could be heard throughout the line, as people whispered about what they were going to do for the next couple of hours. But it all worked out in the end, as Ben came running onto the stage around 10:45, begging forgiveness and doing what a good songwriter does best: recounting his adventure and then slipping references into his songs, as on “Fight”, where he added in the line “got to fight to get your ass off the runway”. The crowd loved it.

Kweller, a baby-faced Texan with a young Arlo Guthrie’s curls and presence, was soft-spoken and sprinkled his songs with heartfelt sincerity. He told us about meeting his wife and having a long-distance relationship that led into the first song he ever wrote for her called “Lizzy” and then about losing his glasses in a New Orleans cab before sitting at the organ to play “Falling”. He explained how having to sit on an airplane all day had “fucked up my voice” with the dry air so he was asking for requests from the crowd. Numerous songs were called out before “Sundress” was accepted as being one his voice could actually handle. And then he ended with “Penny On The Train Track”, a song that “some consider to be my best song”, he laughed humbly as he started strumming the opening notes on an acoustic guitar with the gentlest of touches. I would definitely like to hear more of this young man when his voice is in full working order.

And speaking of vocals, if it wasn’t for him actually telling us that he was not feeling well, you may not have even realized that Pete Yorn was a few temp degrees above average. He jumped into “Panic” and “Precious Stone” with a lively kick, and then proceeded to jazz up the crowd with songs old and new, never slacking them into humdrum auto-pilot territory. He was there to sing and play and enjoy this moment.

The new tunes came with that burst of new song vitality that is always fun and virginally energetic. The afore-mentioned “Precious Stone”, “Velcro Shoes” and “Rock Crowd” were well-received and known enough by the fans that they sang along, at times quite loudly. Pete played a spirited harmonica on “Velcro Shoes”, “Life On A Chain” and “Strange Condition”. And the drums on the spicy-flavored “For Nancy” were kicking. “On Your Side” and “Rock Crowd” featured lively guitar solos by Mark Noseworthy and by the time the band had reached the end with a powerhouse “Closet”, they were sweating.

About mid-way through the set, Pete had announced, “We have a setlist but I don’t feel like playing it” and asked for suggestions from his fans. “Black” was a good choice as it spearheaded into a multi-rocking-song section featuring “Velcro Shoes”, “On Your Side”, “Rock Crowd” and “Strange Condition”.

It’s always a good sign when you leave a concert sweating as much as the band onstage. It just proves that rock & roll is NOT dead and that being in a small club scrunched together with a few hundred other people listening to musicians playing real instruments is where music is still most alive.

SETLIST: Panic, Precious Stone, Murray, June, For Us, I Feel Good Again, Black, Velcro Shoes, On Your Side, Rock Crowd, Strange Condition, For Nancy, Crystal Village, Life On A Chain, Burrito, Closet.

Related Content

Recent Posts

New to Glide

Keep up-to-date with Glide