Buzzed Bands Podcast, Ep. 2 w/ Cold Blood Club

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Tom Morello Played City Winery

On Thursday I stopped by City Winery to see Tom Morello performing as The Nightwatchman. I was only familiar with a handful of songs prior to the show and I had mixed feelings about what I had heard. I didn't know what to expect.

We were given seats a couple of feet away from the stage. I scanned the room and saw an surprising amount of middle aged dudes in collar shirts. It looked like a holiday luncheon for CitiBank or something. We ordered a couple of drinks (Old Speckled Hen!) and waited for Tom to come out. Luckily we didn't have to sit through any crappy opener or anything and the show started 15 minutes after our arrival.

Tom came out with nothing but a stomp box and an acoustic guitar. The crowd went crazy! People were yelling out "revolution" and shit along those lines. Again, considering the appearance of the crowd this was not what I expected. Tom thanked the crowd and chatted a bit before launching into the first song.

His songs were clearly inspired by Dylan, Seeger and Guthrie. They were folky but had elements of what we know of his work with RATM and Audioslave. I didn't love every tune but none of it was bad either. He is a master perform and even when the tunes were lackluster he completely controlled the mood in the room. The between song banter was very entertaining. He is pushing an agenda but kept it light enough that it didn't come off as preachy.

On a few occasions he whipped out his electric guitar and played some of the craziest shit I have ever heard/seen. I've always taken issue with him getting such high marks on all-time guitar player lists but when you see what he's doing from 10 feet away it's fucking mind blowing. He is a technical master but has Hendrix-esque flare (he even played with his teeth).

My one complaint would be that the range of his voice is pretty limited. Granted he's a guitar player, not a singer, but the songs would have benefited greatly if the vocals were better. He did have another guitar player on some of the songs who would occasionally chime in on vocals. That guy could sing very well and it added so much to the music.

Some other highlights included Tom performing "The Ghost of Tom Joad" and "This Land Is Your Land". At the end of the set he invited everyone on stage to sing along and close out the set. That's when I saw Michael Moore smash his head on an overhead speaker getting on stage. Did I mention Michael Moore was there? He was amongst the rich white guys yelling "revolution" while drinking a $14 glass of wine.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the show, more so than I expected. Tom knows exactly what he's doing on stage and just fucking owns the room. It was impressive, not so much on a song level but on a performance level. I would see this guy perform anytime.

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