Monday, August 15, 2005

Shelby Lynne and Bob Schneider Live at the Avalon

Or is it Bob Schneider and Shelby Lynne? Ticketmaster showed Shelby first. The tickets had Shelby on top. So we were very surprised when Shelby walked out on stage first. I’m not sure if she was responding to someone in the audience but she said, “We had a fight and obviously HE won”. With that Shelby and her 3 piece band kicked it into high gear. This was more of a rock and roll show than the one we saw in Austin last year. In fact, the cowboy hat wearing cowgirl was now a work shirt, beret wearing rocker. I got the feeling though that she was not happy about being on first and to reflect it there was this constant and a bit annoying thanking/pointing to the other members of the band after each song. It seemed very insincere. Maybe it was a message to L.A. Whatever, it was all a bit weird. The band stuck mainly to music from the last 2 CDs, but whenever Shelby dug a little deeper, she got thunderous applause from the very small crowd (I was told they were only expecting 300 people). The set did slow down from time to time, but this was not a country set by any stretch of the imagination. Ben, her slide/lead guitar player was wonderful. I last saw him adding amazing sounds to Gary Jules band. Hopefully Gary used him in the studio this year. The band played for about an hour and then went off without an encore.

So the interesting question was: Is this Shelby’s crowd or Bob’s? Very few people left when Bob and the Lonelyland band stepped on stage (to the music of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood). And as they cranked up and crunched out an old Scabs tune, there was no doubt that they owned the place. This was a very straightforward show (maybe because they only played for an hour and a half). Bob kept it very professional (well as professionally as Bob can). That’s not to say that the band can’t play. Sometimes they are just too loose and the song selection is way out there. Bob also has a tendency to throw away lyrics. He sang the songs much straighter tonight. The new guitar player, Jeff Plankenhorn, did a great job on guitar. I don’t believe he was given as many solos as Billy, but he made the most of the ones he got.

The highlight for the evening was a version of “Under My Skin” that I had never heard before. Bob loves to change the style of songs. The original has an upbeat Tom Waits sound to it. This version though was a slow, sultry almost blues style. It was amazing.

The closing song was a new one: “Sons of Ralph”. It’s, uhmmm, a pirate song. It’s basically a list of all the disgusting things we do as the Sons of Ralph. It’s a sing-a-long of course.

In between, were lots of songs from the latest CD and several from Lonelyland. It was a focused and well performed show.

This was my first trip to the Avalon. It is a cool open theater with benches and couches for the privileged few around the outside and upstairs. The rest of us low life sat on the steps leading onto the dance floor. The sound was barely okay, with too much distortion to give it a thumbs up. AND they wouldn’t allow Bob to record and sell his CDs, so I had no copy of the show to take home. That sucked. If you haven’t been to the Avalon, just expect a bigger House of Blues, without the gift shop and restaurant.


Patrick Nichols said...

Hey Bruce, thanks for the great post. Sounds like a bizarre change from the promoters. And Reuters reports that not everyone in the audience was pleased. I'm a Bob Schneider fan, so good for him, but that sucks for Shelby and her fans. Probably safe to say those two won't be playing any more dates together anytime soon.

Bruce Greenberg said...

Patrick, thanks for the comment. I'm not sure about the blinders that Katie at Reuters had on. I found all the "love" to be very insincere. A friend in Chicago who saw her show agreed when I described it. As for who should have been the main attraction: Bob has been developing L.A., playing at least twice a year for the last few years. He fills the Roxy, which is about 500 people. There weren't even that many at the Avalon. Most hung around for his show.

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