Saturday, October 23, 2004

Old 97's / First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN / Oct. 22, 2004

By MITM Minneapolis bureau chief Pat Feghali

I love the Old 97’s. I won’t lie to you. I am a biased reviewer.

There are bands with great songs. There are bands with great drummers, with great guitar players, with great bass players. There are bands with great singers. There are bands that put on shows that exude so much energy you wonder if they go home and pass out afterwards. And then, atop the shining pinnacle of rock and roll glory, sits this little band from Texas that could.

The band launched through its nearly two-hour-long set, playing songs from their new albums, their old albums, and even throwing in some covers, one of which included bassist Murry Hammond busting out his yodeling skills. In the best possible way. They played two encores. They thanked everyone at the show, Prince, and the bartender in the back who was dancing along with the crowd. Both singer Rhett Miller and lead guitarist Ken Bethea had sweat literally dripping down their guitars, and the crowd, beers in hand and heartbreaks healthily in tow, sang along as if you could hear them over the amazingness that was taking place on stage.

It wouldn’t do justice to the performance to include a setlist, nor would it do to attempt to describe the feeling that came from watching the kings of alt-country, including one of my favorite drummers, lead guitarists, and bass players, and two of my favorite singers (impressive for a four piece band), do something that they so obviously enjoy and do so well. This band was born to play live shows. And I was born to go see them.

Suffice it to say that a good time was had by all, and if there were any people who left the show as anything other than fans they were obviously deaf, blind and, quite obviously, dumb as a rock.