Gillian Welch and David Rawlings announced a stop in Boston (touring under "David Rawlings" this time) and we just had to go see that, at the Wilbur on Wednesday 11/29. I've gone on before how their music is exactly to my taste. It's amazing how right it sounds to me. And this tine they were again accompanied by Brittany Haas, Paul Kowert, and Willie Watson, a super-group of impossible dimensions.
And as has happened before (stop me if I'm repeating myself), we were suffering from late Fall cold/flu bugs and, even if just a little bit, considered skipping the shows. I even offered the tickets to Kate, but she couldn't make it. And that turned out to be fine because we sucked it up and headed into the city, determined to at least catch the first set or die in the attempt. We played it a little smart and parked in a very close-by garage on Charles Street before limping into Wirth's, in the middle of massive construction of course, and having a quick dinner.
We got over to the Wilbur a bit after 7 but the doors hadn't opened yet. The people waiting were milling about the lobby and we milled too after picking up our will-call tickets, and then were some of the first in. Several of us immediately crowded up to the stage ... and by "several" I mean several. Though those of us there were totally psyched, there weren't that many of us. I'm past being shocked that Welch and Rawlings with some of the best accompanists ever (I mean, have you heard Willie Watson's recent release?) are not as much of a draw as Beethoven, or even DSO. But whatever! By the time the show got started the place was pretty full, except for the top balcony, which had more empty than full seats.
So we were right in front of David and Brittany; they lined up as before: Hass, Rawlings, Welch, and Watson from left to right with Kowert in the second row. As I say, those of us who were there were wildly enthusiastic and the band was full of smiles. David (native of Pawtucket RI) had his parents in the crowd and of course Rawlings and Welch are Berklee products, so this was a home crowd.
Wish I could remember the setlist (or that it was transcribed online) but no such luck at this point. Here's what I remember, including opening with Money Is the Meat In the Coconut and doing almost everything on David's new record:
Money Is the Meat In the Coconut
Come On Over My House
Wayside/Back In Time
To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)
Keep It Clean (sung by Watson)
It's Too Easy
Good God a Woman
Short Haired Woman Blues
If I Had My Way (sung by Watson)
He Will Set Your Fields On Fire
I Hear Them All/This Land Is Your Land
Put 'Em Up Solid
Pilgrim (You Can't Go Home Again)
Look At Miss Ohio
Method Acting/Cortez the Killer
Going Down the Road Feelin' Bad
Didn't Leave Nobody But the Baby
There was a set break in there and a short encore break. Highlights were numerous!
- Money was started, as on the record, by Gil on the hambone. Amazing that a woman that thin can make those sounds without beating herself black and blue! She and Brittany had beautiful complementary outfits, including long skirts from the same pattern cloth.
- Wayside/Back In Time is one of my favorites and everyone around us seemed to feel the same way ... we were gushing over that one at the set break.
- To Be Young had us all singing along and was as "high" as I've ever heard it. And to be clear, I was 6 feet away from David while he did his magic on his hollow-body electric and his traditional magic guitar ... the one he plays like he sold his soul to the devil (and then his wife bashed some heads, Yup).
- Cumberland Gap just knocked us all over and then they stopped it, they'd just summed it all up in less than 2 minutes and we wanted more! I asked David to play it again and he laughed.
- This Land Is Your Land was an epic folk sing-along of course, with the whole Wilbur rocking to Woody Guthrie's old words while we all nodded along to the fact that this land really *is* our fucking land, no matter what anyone pulls off (or not) in the short term.
- Yup was another favorite, how can you not like this story?
- Several people called out for The Weekend throughout, and we were all glad when they got around to this.
- Look At Miss Ohio was the encore opener and got one of the biggest cheers of the night. I mean, we were watching "David Rawlings" that night and we all loved him but ... Good God, that was a woman named Gillian Welch on the other mike, maybe 12 feet from me. Gillian's hair is mostly white and she's sporting wrinkles and jowls like a mature person, but she's still the amazing, young, fresh, thrilling musician we all adore.
- And I have to say something about Haas, Kowert, and Watson. Britanny was effortlessly brilliant on fiddle, looking almost as frail as Gillian but playing it with the fervor of a Vassar Clements. Kowert was flawless himself on bass fiddle and low harmonies. And Watson is quite a force, taking over the mike for a couple of numbers and sometimes grabbing his fiddle and playing duets with Brittany, over at her mike right in front of me. The iron-jawed guy next to me was captivated by Willie's wandering eye, and I think the attraction may have been mutual.
- BUT ... perhaps the highlight of highlights was Method Acting/Cortez the Killer in the encore, that had jaws dropped down the line to my left and to my right (as well as mine). This isn't the most dynamic song and it goes on for a bit, but we wanted it to go longer, it was just a tour de force, rising and falling and rising again until we all almost understood what it was all about.