My, oh, my, what a show. Definitely the best Cracker or CVB I've seen, and I caught the smoker in Nashville a few months back. (And played a show with CVB years ago.) So, of the three, this one lived up to the promise of the band.
The opening set was good, with lots of various tunes by Jonathan, Victor & Greg. I ran into Victor at the Walgreens just an hour before the show. However, I didn't recognize him until he got up on stage. He's a grown man now, with distinguished gray streaks and tattoos, etc. The last time I saw him was in l987. More on him later. Like I said, the set was good, and I liked the Jonathan song about the ears a lot.
Cracker came on after a lengthy wait in which I managed to get some brown liquor, brown liquor in me. Victor had replaced the lady bass player that was with them in Nashville. Though she was good and sang well, too... I found Victor's playing gave the band a lot more bounce and swing, not to mention chops. He's gotten excellent on the bass, no doubt, great tone, feel, chops, etc. Which made the riddim section really swing along with the superb iplaydrums.com drummer with the cool hat of which certainly beefheart and his distant relatives might approve. Plus, he's in a much better mood than she seemed to be.
The opening statement was delivered thusly: If you are from out of town, welcome to Knoxville, if you are from here, well.....the jury is still out. Being a native knoxvillian, I was amused/confused by this statement. After a song or sow DL explained that they were almost booed off the stage opening for Dave Matthews in Knoxville. Well, no offense to Dave Matthews, but around these parts they are favored largely by frats and vol fans types. NRBQ was booed before REM here, so there you have it.
Lowery went on to explain his feelings on Knoxville, which were mixed, to say the least. He name dropped some of Knoxville's best talent (actually, Cormac Mcarthy was the only person he mentioned by name) and Johnny threw in the L' Bros' Knoxville Girl. Some other names he could have mentioned might have been James Agee (speaking of REM, when they were hear last, Stipe READ from Death in the Family at the Thompson Arena, which impressed us all.) If you read this boys, here is some more: Hank Williams died here (as you almost did before Dave Matthews), The Everly Brothers went to High School here, knoxville radio gave a start to Chet Atkins, Roy Acuff, Dolly Parton and hundreds of others.
He then went on to say "what if it was all a mistake?" and then said knoxville might be in the third circle of hell, etc. An amusing rant that ended up talking about Beefheart, which was fitting seeing how the drummer reminded me of a former beefheart drummer (the one who used to play with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, as it were).
The set list was awesome, especially the first half. Lots of tunes from Gentlemen's Blues, a great record as I have noted on occasion. Good Guys/Bad Guys, Eye of Fatima, Lonely Now, EUrotrash, were some other highlights-- and I really dug the instrumentals in the encore. (early CVB stuff like Mao, etc.) After a great performance of one of the quieter tunes from Gent's, (with some really good pre-halloween piano stuff in it)-- Lowery, maybe not feeling the song got it's due, said: Let's Play the Hits. (At this point, I thought the show lost a little of the magic it had formed up)-- Low, Matchstick Men (the only song they seem to like to play from Key Lime, I was hoping for others.)
Earlier stuff from cracker included Dr. Bernice (which was great) and Song about the Rain, also enjoyable.
Hickman's mandolin playing was perfect, by the way, when Greg would come up for CVB songs.
Lowery eventually explained that he wasn't agin' Knoxvillians, but he felt the city ignored it's rich heritage, or at least the public officials. And very right was he. He then said "FUCK THE VOLS" which, to me, reeked of pandering to the anti-vol element in the crowd. Personally, I enjoy some football after an afternoon read of some southern lit and an everly brothers record. I think you can have both, which this city will get around to eventually. I hope.
Victor added "YEEHAW INDUSTRIES IS GOOD!" -- Well, there's a good observation, but there's a lot more here than that-- more than a guy on a tour bus with four hours to0 kill can discover and generalize about. And therein lies my problem with this band, I appreciate that they are saying their mind, but the condescending attitude makes me sometime come off a little younger than their years. Which is both good and bad, really.
I don't care if people talk trash on knoxville, I do it all the time, but fer godsakes can you do it without coming across as so arrogant? I guess not. But, at least it's entertaining. As was the rant about secret cryptic submarine codes (Neal Stephenson readers there?) via Oak Ridge Lab. Which was
knoxville show part two-
Boy, did I make type-0s in the last one. Oh well, it's early. I meant to say that they sometimes come off a little petulant/arrogant, not ME, of course.
The show ended with Skinheads, a great closer. Had a great time, go see this tour.
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