Earlier this week, when I told people around Portland that I was going to see the Aaron Lee Tasjan show, the reply I got the most was, “Who?” Granted, Portland, Oregon is a couple of thousand miles from Tasjan’s home in East Nashville, and the man has worked quite a variety of gigs, playing different styles of music. But, now a couple of albums into his solo career, it’s clear that his name, and his music, has the potential to spread far and wide.
Tasjan and band played the Doug Fir Lounge on October 3rd, and those who attended soon found their musical cup filled to overflowing. “Dime,” from 2016’s Silver Tears (New West Records) got things started, and was the first of seven songs played from his most recent album. “Get Gone,” from 2015’s In The Blazes followed it up with its 60s style guitar riffs. “Hard Life” showcased Tasjan’s quirky lyrical capabilities, and a funny story about the opening act at a Cat Power concert led into “Bitch Can’t Sing.” Most of the set was comprised of songs from Tasjan’s two full-length solo albums, but attendees were also treated to the brand new composition, “The Rest Is Yet To Come.”
In addition to writing compelling songs, both lyrically and structurally, Tasjan can shred guitar. While he made this abundantly clear throughout the show, the biggest, hardest jam came at the end of “Ready To Die,” which was just relentless. This was followed with an intricate extended intro section to “Success.” With the “12 Bar Blues” that followed, Tasjan offered his storytelling side, before closing the set with “The Dangerous Kind,” off of In The Blazes, and reminiscent of a J.J. Cale groove.
For an encore, Tasjan came out with his electric guitar and paid tribute to lost hero Tom Petty with a pair of songs. “The Waiting” led into “American Girl,” with the crowd loudly singing along the whole time. The band was then invited back to the stage and the show ended with a rollicking cover of Todd Snider’s “Hey Pretty Boy” from the album Eastide Bulldog, because, as Tasjan reminded us, “Todd Snider Rules.”
Aaron Lee Tasjan is hard to pin down. And that’s a beautiful thing. “Dime” trots along at a Traveling Wilburys pace, while “Little Movies” may bring to mind Beck, or The Beatles. There’s storytelling, cosmic country, and rock ‘n roll all flowing in the undercurrent, as well as the previously mentioned shredding. It all comes together, not as imitation, but as alchemy. In all, it is singularly Aaron Lee Tasjan.
Aaron Lee Tasjan, Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, Oregon, 10.3.17
Dime, Get Gone, Hard Life, Bitch Can’t Sing, The Rest Is Yet To Come, Little Movies, Til The Town Grows Dark, Set You Free, Ready To Die, Success, 12 Bar Blues, The Dangerous Kind
Encore: The Waiting>American Girl (Tom Petty), Hey Pretty Boy (Todd Snider)