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4/6/06 Washington Avenue Armory,
Setlist (courtesy donnabase.com)
Movin' On, Living in Babylon, Positive Friction, Blue Sky, Push Comes to Shove, Tides of Time, Mystic Water, Broken Record, When It's Meant to Be,* Diamond in the Rough,* Family Picture,* Ring of Fire,* 40 Days & 40 Nights, Temporary Misery, WV Rastafari, No Place Like the Right Time
Encore: Come to Life, Hey Trudy
*Jeb on Kent guitar
Dave McCracken on keys entire show, no Kathy Ziegler
Photos of this show
By Jeff Bauer
I was fortunate enough to have caught all three shows the band played in the Albany/Troy area last year, and they were all great, especially the December gig at Revolution Hall (review, photos). So when I saw the band was returning to the Capital City for a show, it was a no-brainer to make the trip up, even though it took place on a Thursday.
The Washington Avenue Armory was a new venue for DtB. I don't know how long it's been hosting concerts, but it is essentially an old building with all new insides. As nice as they've made it, the performance space is still essentially a gym that is home to more basketball games than anything else. For this night, a large curtain was draw across the line at midcourt, presumably to make the space seem less empty. The floor was open in the area in front of the stage, with a few rows of folding chairs toward the back of the floor and just 10 or 15 rows of fixed arena-style seats on each side. While I loved Revolution Hall, it was nice to have some room to stretch out for a change.
This show was part of something called the The Peer Impact Tech Valley Concert Series. This meant there were other bands on the bill: the Kamikaze Hearts, who opened and were decent if somewhat chatty, and Raisinhead, an Albany act that apparently has somewhat of a following.
Donna the Buffalo came out a little after 10:30 and launched into Movin On. The sound was dialed in pretty well by the end of this tune, which was somewhat surprising considering the room. You'll have to take my word for it--apparently this show was not taped.
Living in Babylon was a pleasant surprise next. It was followed by Positive Friction, which was the first song to really set the dancers in motion.
This was my first time seeing the band with Dave McCracken on keys, and his contributions first became apparent during the Blue Sky that came next. Obviously, this song is a great place for Tara to shine, but Dave added some fills that made me think he was going to do more than just try to keep Kathy Ziegler's seat warm in her absence.
Even though Push Comes to Shove isn't a particularly rare song for DtB to play, I hadn't seen them do it before, and so was pleased to hear it. The juxaposition of songs was great: One second it's Blue Sky's "Everybody gets high on love" and the next it's "All you Wall Street bloodsuckers..." Even though this version of Push didn't descend into sheer musical chaos as have previous versions, most notably on the Cruise a few years back, I enjoyed it thoroughly.
But not as much as the Mystic Water that came after a solid version of Tide of Time. During Mystic, Tara ran her bow over her fiddle as if it had recently pissed her off, and the resulting sounds were nothing short of beautiful. I thought that the impact of the song might be lost on a crowd that seemed to consist of many who were seeing the band for the first time, but fortunately I was wrong. The best word to describe this version of Mystic Water is "epic." If the show ended after this, I would have gone home happy.
You'd think that after something like this, the band might turn it down a notch, but no sir. Tara picked then for a rousing Bad Memories, a song the band seems to play more enthusiastically each time out. Next came a first for me: When It's Meant To Be, a ballad that Jeb debuted last July at Great Blue Heron. He'd originally played this song solo the first few times, and the band has peformed it only a handful of times over the last year. Jeb switched over to his Kent guitar for this and the next three songs.
Back to Tara next for Diamond in the Rough. It's amazing how quickly a "new" song can become an old friend. After the perennial crowd pleasers Family Picture and Ring of Fire, Jeb mentioned Kathy Z's new baby boy, and thanked Dave for filling in for her.
Then they went into a long, frantic verison of 40 Days & 40 Nights, and there wasn't a still body in the house. Even those who stayed seated for the whole night bopped in the chairs to this one.
After that I headed to the seats to catch my breath as the band played Temporary Misery. But my rest was indeed more temporary than it seemed--as soon as I recognized the opening notes of WV Rastafari, I zoomed back up front to soak it in, as I'd never seen DtB play this song before. The experience did not disappoint. Having Dave on keys for this song was an asset, as he got completely into it, adding his own touches as he saw fit, much to the enjoyment of the rest of the band. This was not a wailing jam, but rather a long, slow reggae groove that to me seemed to be a tip of the hat to the week the band had just spent at Jamm in Jamaica, bringing some of it home for those of us who hadn't been there.
After that, it was back to normal for No Place Like The Right Time, a perfect song to end the set. I was wondering if we'd even get an encore, seeing as it was closing in on 12:30, but they provided two songs: Come to Life, which I think was by request, and a version of Hey Trudy that sounded as fresh as if it'd been the first song of the night, and sent us off into the night dancing.