Craig Finn’s first solo tour made its stop in the singer/songwriter’s home town of Brooklyn on Thursday night but with the troubadour having played multiple shows in the area tonight’s attendance seemed sparse throughout the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Opening the show fellow Brooklyn residents Virgin Forest played to an almost empty room, but the band was musically tight having played together as Phosphorescent behind a different lead singer (Matthew Houk fronts that band). However, that change makes a world of difference and was easily the biggest negative with the new group on this night. Scott Stapleton was singing like an even more dramatic Morrissey while talking with a fake British accent between songs and posing like, well, a poser trying to act “quirky."
Moving on to a more engaging front man, Craig Finn brought his four piece backing band out on to the stage with little fanfare and proceeded to play all of his Clear Heart Full Eyes release for the crowd. The night started with “Apollo Bay” as Finn strummed his acoustic guitar in front of the newly named Some Guns backing band. There was an interesting story with Finn discussing how he always wanted to be in a band with a theme song and he had written a tune called “Some Guns” so that turned into the name of the musicians behind him. It was an early highlight to a set that kept it fairly mellow and that doesn’t always play so well with Finn’s physical movements on stage that he has synched so well with his high tempo Hold Steady tunes.
Ricky Ray Jackson who played lead guitar and pedal steel shined brightly throughout the night and added flair to “Jackson” while Falcon Valdez kept the beat and Alex Livingstone played the bass. Extra electric guitar was played by James Stevens who took over on the upbeat “No Future”. Other showcase tunes on this night were the “being 35 and divorced sucks” sounds of “Rented Room” and a newer stark tune called “Dennis and Billy” about two Upstate New York boys.
Finn has proved himself as prolific songwriter and this tour finds him comfortable in stripped down digs, with different musicians, just don’t expect those high energy sing-a-long songs if you are catching this troubadour.