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  Rick Wood's Concert Diary - Vol. 61

Rick Wood's Concert Diary - Vol. 61

12/3/07 The Knitters, The Duck Room.  One of those rare weeknights where Nancy was in town and we had a babysitter, so we got there in time to eat dinner upstairs; we made it down to the Duck Room in time to hear all of the opening set by Dead Rock West.  When these guys opened for (and later backed) John Doe in electric mode last August, they showed that they could bring the rock and let it rip.  Tonight, they tailored their sound (and look) to complement John’s more roots-oriented incarnation…kind of ironic that they played loud/electric at a house concert and went acoustic in a bar.  I somehow got the impression this was their more natural setting.  They opened with A.P. Carter’s “No Depression” and ended with The Velvet Underground’s “What Goes On?”.  In between, they did a bunch of originals from their current Honey And Salt CD, highlighting the vocal chemistry of Frankie and Cindy.  Phil Parlapiano played a big ol’ mandolin and Bryan Head’s percussion varied from brushed snare to some offbeat rhythmic whapping on some odd piece of cookware.  The crowd density was just about perfect; I really wouldn’t have wanted it to be much more (or less) crowded.
 
The first order of business when The Knitters took the stage was for John Doe to announce that he had caught a cold in Chicago and was gonna be limited in what he could do tonight.  He said they had even considered canceling the show, but didn’t want to let down everyone who had come out tonight.  He said he would have to forego that part where he and Dave Alvin open with a couple of songs in duo mode before being joined by the full band (“Silver Wings” and “Cryin But My Tears Are Far Away” were my personal highlights of their 2005 show at Mississippi Nights).
 
So what we got tonight was an “adjust on the fly” set.  Exene sang more, John sang less.  At certain points, Cindy and Frankie came out to help sing, as well.  Dave Alvin is always impressive on lead guitar and tonight they gave him a bit more of the spotlight, so he wound out his lead playing, especially in songs like “Walking Cane” (!) and “Wrecking Ball” (appropriately, Dave did a little chicken pickin’ on this one).  This is a rare instance in which Dave is not the frontman; I still find it curious that he stands off to the side and never sings in this band.  This was especially frustrating, given that JD couldn’t sing so much tonight.  Hell, they even sang Dave’s “Dry River” without Dave stepping up to help out on vocals.
 
“Still Miss Someone Like You” and “Poor Little Critter” were the evening’s highlights for Nancy and me (Poor Little Critter was probably our favorite album of 1985).  Other songs I remember (in no particular order): “Give Me Flowers While I'm Living”, “Skin Deep Town”, “I’ll Go  Down Swinging”, “Baby Out Of Jail”, George Jones’ “I’ll Go Down Swinging” (all with strong lead vocals from Exene) and “Rock Island Line” (ending, as always, at double-speed).

   

 

 

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