text by Bill, photos by Tom
What a gem of an evening on Monday at Trustees Theater here in Savannah. Band of Horses came to town again, in a performance that was stunningly different than their last-minute rock show at The Wormhole a few months back.
This time, Band of Horses was touring in support of their beautiful new record Acoustic at the Ryman. So it was a quiet show, for the most part, with all five members seated in an arc on the stage for much of the time. They occasionally broke into other arrangements — three grouped around an old time microphone, three behind the piano, and so forth. The audience stayed seated too, up until the encore.
The show opened with a soul-stirring version of “St. Augustine” and included many gorgeous renditions of BOH songs, including “The Funeral,” “I Go To The Barn Because I Like The,” “Laredo,” and “No One’s Gonna Love You.”
It’s hard to pick the standouts because the concert was so uniformly strong. The success was largely due to the skilled, subtle, and restrained musicianship from the entire band: Ben Bridwell, Ryan Monroe, Tyler Ramsey, Bill Reynolds, and Creighton Barrett. Absent a loud rock show and an audience of raucous fans, Band of Horses gets even better.
The overall effect relies on other elements too, especially the pure beauty and even innocence of Bridwell’s lead vocals. Monroe and Ramsey are good singers too, maybe even great singers, but when Bridwell’s voice rises to the top, the entire room seems transformed.
And, of course, none of this effect would be possible if the songs themselves weren’t so good. The lyrics often seem to be about the anticipation or remembrance of some emotional peak, but the songs don’t try to imagine or to recreate those fleeting moments of greatest feeling. Instead, the lyrics acknowledge the constant flow of time — the songs seem to exist in a space just before, or just after, something even greater.
All that said, Bridwell and the gang need to figure out how to fill the space between songs as they retune. There are two obvious choices: have more instruments at the ready or engage in a little more banter. I’d vote for the banter — but not silly banter. The band pretty much had zero to say about the songs themselves, about where and when and why they were written, about the decision to go acoustic for the new album, about, well, anything. A couple of the band members toddler daughters could even be seen occasionally in the wings (one waved back after I waved at her), but they didn’t say anything personal about that either.
Sera Cahoone, a singer-songwriter from Seattle, opened the show She was joined by Jason Kardong on a beautiful pedal steel and guitar. I was glad to have a chance to get to know her work.
My fellow blogger Tom Cartmel took some pretty glorious pics from his third row seat.