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12/7/07 Mexicali Blues Cafe,
Way Back When, Living in Babylon, These Are Better Days, Blue Sky, Arrows Pointing Sideways, Tides of Time, Hey Trudy, If You Only Could, Each and Every Direction, Locket & Key, Family Picture, Seems to Want to Hurt This Time, If Thereís Love Here, Push Comes to Shove, Sailing, Itís A New Day, Nashville Christmas, Voice in My Head, No Place Like the Right Time EEnd 12:40 am
Encore: There Must Be,* Tomorrow Still Knows, Hot Tamale Baby**
*first just Tara & Kathy, then Jeb joins on bass
**Dave McCracken joins Kathy on keys
By Jeff Bauer
DtB fans who've seen the band here and there sometimes call a show a "Top 40 show." This is a reference to the setlist, meaning the band chose to play songs they play often, the ones found on their CDs, as opposed to songs from somewhat deeper in their vast repertoire. While Top 40 shows are often a lot of fun--and go a long way toward drawing new fans back to see DtB--people who see the band on a regular basis really appreciate the times the band cuts loose, mixing up their Greatest Hits with tunes that see the light of day only a few times each year. Such was the case with the band's performance on 12/7/07 at Mexicali Blues Cafe in beautiful Teaneck, NJ, which featured a very happy band playing a healthy mix of songs to a very happy crowd.
The beginning of the band's third show in Teaneck gave no hint of what was to come later. DtB came onstage at about 10:10, and the Way Back When opener was fairly standard, though I did notice that the sound seemed to be dialed in from the start--sometimes this song serves as a warmup, but on this night, that wasn't the case. Living in Babylon, These Are Better Days, so far, so good.
The first clue the band was in particularly good spirits came during Blue Sky. The song was rocking along as usual, and personally didn't see anyone headed to the bathroom. Then came the "break," when the music stops and Tara sings, "Jet set and rock bottom seek a seat at the beach." She pauses, and Jeb takes a particularly enthusiatic solo. Tara steps back up to the mic and...bursts out laughing. She looks over and Jeb and Kathy, and they break out laughing. Tara tries again, nails the line, and the song goes on. It was a classic DtB moment.
The first pleasant surprise came next, with the opening licks of Arrows Pointing Sideways. The band hadn't played this song since Shakori GrassRoots. Next Tara picks up the accordion and delivers a pair for the dancers: Tides of Time and Hey Trudy. Then she swaps her accordion for guitar and signs If You Only Could. This song is apparently back in rotation, and I've got no complaints--it's one of my favorites.
Each & Every Direction was the first of several songs they played that I'd consider to be Not Top 40. After Locket & Key, the band launched into a blazing Family Picture. I was struck with the energy, intensity, and aggression of this version--DtB has played this song night after night, year after year, and yet here they are playing it like it was brand new to all of us.
After Seems to Want to Hurt This Time, which was played by request, there was a string of treats. If There's Love Here was followed by an absolutely off the charts Push Comes To Shove, which was my favorite part of the night. Perhaps the placement was coincidental, but after the previous song, I couldn't help but laugh as Jeb sang "I dare say you'll gurgle a different tune when they slit your throat" and "Your skin's gonna boil like a deep fried chicken." The song then descended into chaos, with Jeb speak-singing over the band's decidedly non-melodic improv.
And what better to follow this up with than Tara's beautiful Sailing, performed for the first time since last New Year's Eve. The surprises weren't done yet: It's A New Day, followed by Nashville Christmas, which for obvious reasons usually only gets played once each year right around this time. Lucky us! After Tara belted out Love and Gasoline, the band played Voice in My Head, again by request. No Place Like the Right Time, and the set is done.
For the encore, just Tara and Kathy come back out. Tara says something about doing a piano-duet "for the first time ever," and the venue immediately gets silent. The two go into There Must Be, not perfectly, a bit hesistantly, but absolutely beautifully, with big smiles and laughter shared as they played. Halfway through, Jeb comes back out, picks up Jay's bass, and gives them a little help. It was another classic DtB moment, the kind that makes you glad you make the effort to travel to see shows. Only in this case, I was close to home.
Another request was honored next: Tomorrow Still Knows, requested by Jennie in honor of Elaine's birthday. A nice selection. Then the night ended just like the show in New York a few weeks ago: With a smoking Hot Tamale Baby that sent us dancing into the night. This time Dave McCracken, who'd been handling soundboard duties for the evening, joined Kathy Z on keys. Thank you, Donna the Buffalo, for another night of the unexpected!