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5/13/05 Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY

Way Back When, Ancient Arms, These Are Better Days, I Don't Need A Riddle, Killing A Man, Family Picture, Ring of Fire, 40 Days & 40 Nights, Life's A Ride, Blue Sky, Everyday, Part-Time Lover, Funkyside, No Place Like The Right Time, Pancho & Lefty, Yonder, The Call, Hey Trudy
Encore: Me & My Depression, I Wish You Love

By Jeff Bauer

We got to the Bowery Ballroom a little before 10 and after briefly greeting Scott and meeting Boris out front, we immediately headed in and staked out a spot on the rail in front of Kathy Z's keys. The Bowery is famous for its talkative crowd, and I figured being on the rail was the best way to be able to actually hear the band, unlike the previous two times I've seen them here. For once I decided not to take photos but to simply kick back and enjoy the show on this night (sorry).

The Hackensaw Boys came on about 10:10 and played a very energetic set of bluegrass. This is not my favorite type of music but they seemed fairly talented, with acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin, stand-up bass, fiddle, and a guy playing a homemade rubboard that included coffee cans, a hubcab, and some small bells. The best part of their set was the encore, for which they unplugged and actually got the crowd quiet.

Just before Donna came on DOG leaned a photo of Big Wayne on Kathy's keyboards. The band came on at 11:30 on the dot and launched into Way Back When. Ancient Arms came next, and Tara was in what's now her normal happy, engetic mode, smiling, swaying, and seeming very pleased to be there. She broke a string during this song, the first of two that night.

It was Jeb's turn next, and he led the band through a fast These Are Better Days. Then Tara picked up the accordion for I Don't Need A Riddle, which is now played at most shows. It was during this song that I realized how good the sound in the Bowery was from this vantage point--I could hear each instrument clearly. I was pretty much directly in front of Kathy and could hear her through her own monitor.

The pace slowed for Killing A Man, and while Jeb did solo a bit, this wasn't quite the aggressive "chaos jam" that the band has played during this song recently. The crowd-pleasing Family Picture was played next, and while the place went berserk, to me this song has not been the same without Jim Miller.

Lots of dancing during Ring of Fire, which continued right into 40 Days and 40 Nights. Then Tara gave both us and the band a break with Life's A Ride, but the rest was only momentary, as they did Blue Sky next. During Everyday I was imagining I was hearing Jonas' voice from the CD repeating Everyday, Everyday, Everyday.

No matter how many times I've seen the band do Part-Time Lover, I still enjoy getting to see Bill do his thing. He and Jeb leaned in the same mic, which at first wasn't turned up enough, for the first verse, but after a while it was all Bill. He seemed so excited at some points that when he went to sing not words but just sounds came out of his mouth. Both the band and the crowd fed off his energy, and the song's tension-release, tension-release threatening to turn the Bowery's dance floor into a giant mosh pit.

If you were expecting a ballad to cool things off next, you would have been disappointed to hear Funkyside next. I glanced at my watch as they started in case it was going to be one of those extended versions, but it was short and sweet. Tara's turn on vocals next for No Place Like The Right Time, another song I will never get tired of hearing. She broke another string.

Before the next song, Jeb mentioned that a friend of the band's had passed away recently and then dedicated Pancho & Lefty to him. Don't remember if he mentioned Wayne by name or not.

Then came the highlight of the night for me: Yonder, played in all its glory. It was hard to tell who was enjoying this song more, us or the band. Tara in particular seemed psyched. She at points held her fiddle and picked at it like a guitar, even looking over at Jeb and seeming to attempt to mimic what he was playing.

The Call was next and while the crowd might have preferred another barn-burner, Jeb was way into this song, playing sweet, soft leads at all the right points, especially the end. "We're going to close with a Zydeco number," Tara said, and the place swung right back into full dance party mode for Hey Trudy.

About 30 seconds after the band left the stage, just Jeb and Tara came back out, and I thought for a moment that maybe we were going to get On Our Way On, though the last two times they've played that song it was Jeb and Kathy only. After a brief discussion, Jeb started played the beginning of Me & My Depression, and the rest of the band hustled back out. Bill was all over the place during this song, standing directly in front of and facing Tom, then literally leaning on Kathy's keys, then back over behind Tara.

This version of Me & My Depression was slow and building, and while I loved it, it seemed an unusual choice for an encore. The band apparently agreed, and closed the night with the much more upbeat I Wish You Love. Bill continued his antics, roaming around the stage, coming out to the front edge and pointing directly to individual fans as he sung "I wish YOU love," which was cracking up the rest of the band. The show ended at 1:55.

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