Completely amazing show, that's all there is to it. The "Iron Horse of the Midwest" didn't fail. With a rare "Fruvous opens up for themselves", the guys whipped out _6_ new tunes (3 of them brand new), a new cover, a pinata, and a lot of very funny banter. The total length of the show? 125 minutes! As with Columbus, and the next 2 shows, a full review from me will come this weekend, but I'll leave you the setlist to salivate over:
Also, at the NJ show, someone had given them a fish Pinata. They brought it to the Ark and hung it from the rafters. After Pisco Bandito, they got a cane from the audience, blindfolded Murray, and let him got for it. (Let me tell you, the guy can play bass like a fiend, but he can't hit a pinata to save his life.. hehe) Once it broke open, bizarre things poured out. Jian starts a Sahara-like groove, which turns into a "Lowest Highest Point" kind of rap where audience members were chosen to come on stage, pick a prize, and announce what they had chosen.
Also from Josh Woodward:
I knew that the show at the Ark was going to be magical. After all, it *is* the Iron Horse of the midwest. I wasn't let down: this show is second only to this year's Iron Horse show to me.
I made it to the venue way early and alone with nothing to do, so I grabbed a sub and plopped down at the door. I didn't expect anyone from my crew to make it to this show, but I was delighted when Sheryl & several friends showed up a few minutes later. Not long after that, I met a pocket of Michigan newsgroupers and Andy from.. St. Louis I think? I'm horrible with names/faces/locations. Anyway, we funneled in when the doors finally opened, and grabbed our nice Stage Murray seats. There wasn't supposed to be an opening act, so I set up my stuff and chilled back for a few minutes. An announcer came out and said there would be some local guys playing some songs before Fruvous. Cool, sounds good to me.
Next thing I know, Murray is walking out on stage with an acoustic guitar in hand. It took me a moment to realize exactly what had just happened - I bought it hook, line, and sinker. This really was going to be a special night. He introduced himself as Tim Dunlop, who lives on.. uh.. Main Street. The song he chose to sing was "Indoor Fireworks" by Elvis Costello. The beauty of this is too much to explain. The first verse/chorus was done as voice only. Then he brought the guitar in. Very well done.
Then, Mike (aka Jack Dunlop) came out. He introduced it as a song he wrote while sitting in a hotel in England thinking about his betrothed. He imagines himself blowing a fuse while missing her, and climbing high things. The song felt a bit like Minnie the Moocher, basically a dark swingy song. See my post about the song for the lyrics. I can really see thing being a great full-band song.
Jian was next. First thing when he comes out, he starts getting playfully heckled. He was confused why everyone had pure respect for the other guys and now he's out and the heckling starts. "Let's joke around with the brown guy!" He jumps onto a several minute babble about traffic in New Jersey. When he played his song (after more heckling), WOW. This song is perfect. It's called "Follow the Road". Best of the batch, no question. It's a slow, folky song about several connected people and their dreams and shortcomings. Really wonderful lyrics that flowed perfectly into the music. I'm completely excited to hear what they're going to do with this song. Once again, see my post for the lyrics/chords.
Finally, Dave comes out and introduces his song. He explains how he has a skewed view of the effect of poverty on happiness due to his experiences in Africa as a child. The song is about the lack of direction for people of his age group, and is called "My Poor Generation". Very deep and meaningful, yet another really good song.
The Set: Michigan, Jockey, Horseshoes, Kids', I Will Hold On, Pisco, Sleepy Drinker, Tureen, BJ, Message (a cap), Raja, King, Authors, Car, Signed. E1: Darlington, Psycho. E2: Gulf.
After a short break, the guys came out together ("Like so many GoBots, the 4 become 1"). To kick things off, a bit of Live Noise. They played a rocking and relevant Michigan Militia, a smooth Jockey, and a very odd suprise with Intra-Penn Rivalry (or, Intra-Iowa rivalry). :-) Then, Horseshoes. At this point, I'm worried they're just going to go through Live Noise. But nope..
Kids Song. Fun. But then, the meat of the set: more new stuff! I Will Hold On, which I heard and loved in MIT, was first. It's a simple and funny love song. It's just catchy for me. But then, the magical mystery song! Pisco Bandito!! This song is just great! And it's Murray! Best of all, someone gave them a fish pinata in Buffalo. They hung it from the rafters and found a cane in the crowd. They blindfolded Murray and let him go at it. Wow, he can wail on bass but he has a sucky aim. :) Once it broke, very bizarre stuff poured out onto stage (though not the killer bees or illicit substances as Jian predicted). Jian started a groove, and it turned into a "Lowest Highest Point"-style jam as they searched through the stuff and found great stuff like a jump rope and Star Wars collector cards. They then invited several people on stage to pick and announce an item. Sarah found some stickers, Robin found something but we'll never know what it was because she babbled, and Chrissy found POP ROCKS! :) After this madness, they kicked off Sleepy Drinker, which still hadn't caught onto me yet, even after 3 times seeing it. Ahwell. But I noticed something this time on it -- the middle "sundial" section has the same chord progression as the middle part of Mike's "Your Mother, Your Friend" (a beautiful song).
Present Tense Tureen, then BJ, then Message were next -- all standard. Jian apologizes for the very long show, and decides to call Wilbert's in Cleveland and cancel the show so they could play for 23 more hours at the Ark. Raja comes next, then King Of Spain.
Jian: "We have a guest star! Who do you want this guest star to be?" (audience member): "MURRAY!"
Jian: "You HAVE Murray. He's a member of the band."
Then, Authors. Yeah. Get In The Car was after that, and WOW -- the mix was perfect! Usually it gets lost in the crunchiness, but a combination of Cal's genius, the new Les Paul, and the great room acoustics made this sound wonderful! Great separation in the guitars, and a high energy level without being too in-your-face. And Jian must have seen the Hanson references lately in the NG -- he made a strong "Davey's in Hanson" line. :) The set wound up with Signed, Sealed, Delivered -- the first I've seen since the new song additions. I like. Especially Murray's new slap bass part. Tasty. And Extra Krispy.
Encore 1 was Darlington and Psycho Killer - where Murray was playing around with flat 2nds (Bb) instead of the usual G punches in the 2nd verse. Encore 2 was a great off-mic Gulf War.
I didn't stick around much after the show, but I got to meet a lot of people before leaving (this whole week, I've been working at 8:00 am, after driving home the night before.. ick!)
Bottom line: 9.5/10 on my jawdrop scale. Permagrin mode = ON.
Some other tidbits from the performance include: