FARRAR WITH MARK SPENCER
HOTEL - 20 MAY 2004
Farrar founding member of Uncle Tupelo, splinter group Son Volt
and now solo performer finally arrived on our shores to play the
Corner Hotel. It was a much-anticipated performance by aficionados
of what is loosely described as the alt country scene.
bill of acts on the night saw an entertaining opening by Henry Wagons.
He amused the crowd with his wry humour, guitar play and original
songs. With his booming baritone voice and western tinged narratives
he sounded at times like a weird hybrid of Marty Robbins, Kris Kristofferson
and Jonathon Richman he pleased old fans and gained some new ones
on the night. His excitement about the upcoming headline act was
palpable to the small crowd of early arrivers.
crowd who started to jostle for position closer to the stage, greeted
The Rectifiers who showcased their impending new CD release. The
band is now largely comprised of keyboards and guitar, which is
a departure from the earlier steel guitar sound of the band.
After a short
break Farrar appeared on stage without introduction and proceeded to perform
a solo song 'Doesn't Have to Be This Way' at the end of which he was joined
on stage by his accompanist for the night Mark Spencer.
The set comprised
mostly of songs his two solo albums Sebastopol and Terrior Blues
and included on the new live solo credited album Stone, Steel &
Bright Lights, in a stripped down format due to the absence of a backing
band. Songs such as "Greenwich Time", "No Rolling Back",
"Vitamins" and "Feel Free" highlight the depth of
his writing and suggest an artist, already with a significant body of
work who is reaching the peak of his talents in expressing current societal
ennui in the abstract lyrical content.
was given a glimpse of the troubadour minstrel within Farrar on a bracket
of road songs including "Barstow", "Cahokian", "California"
and "Voodoo Candle". These songs together with the haunting
wail of Spencers guitar work enunciated the struggles and harsh realities
faced by individuals in the regional diversity of modern day America.
songs, "Tear Stained Eye" and "Windfall", from
the Son Volt album Trace were familiar to a lot of the audience.
The former having been covered on least two occasions by Australian
country artists and the later evoked images of "driving across
the night with an all night radio" with a Cajun feel. Both
songs could have been hits and are certainly anthems for a generation.
Spencer formerly of the Blood Oranges remained seated in a chair
throughout the evening. Spencer provided the body to a lot of the
songs with his guitar work, which sounded a lot unlike guitar because
of its tonings. The dexterity of his playing was astounding and
to see and hear him play was worth the price of admission alone.
Spencer confided to inquiries from the audience after the show that
the Blood Oranges self-titled CD release had been acquired back
and it was hoped that the Blood Oranges album would be released
with the singer songwriter focus of the night Farrar covered the Townes
Van Zandt song "White Freight Liner Blues". The song was given
its due respect as one suspects that Farrar might see himself as the Poet
that Townes was considered to be both by his audience and his peers. Interestingly
the song was and is covered by Steve Earle who performed it on the Rig
Rock Deluxe "A Musical Salute to the American Truck Driver"
compilation with Farrar's band Song Volt performed "Lookin' at the
World Through a Windshield". A closer look at that album reveals
that Mark Spencer produced the song covered by Kelly Willis "Truckstop
Girl" a Lowell George/Bill Payne composition.
cover performed on the night was the Lennon/McCartney song "Tomorrow
Never Knows" from the Revolver album. This song was given the
psychedelic treatment by Spencer on guitar.
two encores and hour and a half on stage the audience was happy
with the show even though the songs and performance would have benefited
from the interplay of the musicians and accompaniment that Farrar
has surrounded himself with over the years. Solo it enabled the
strength of the lyrical content and Farrar's' fragile voice to take
centre stage and left us longing for a return visit in a band format
in the not too distant future.
Have to be This Way
2. 6 String Belief
3. Feel Free
4. All of Your Might
5. Greenwich Time
6. No Rolling Back
7. Greenwich Time
8. You don't have to trust the night
9. (By the Time we make it to) Barstow
10. She went away on me
12. Let me tell you to face up
13. Voodoo candle (Don't wanna be between two worlds)
14. Clear Day Thunder
15. Tear Stained Eye
19. Hardwood Floor
20. This puzzles figured out
21. Tomorrow Never Knows (Lennon/McCartney)
22. White Freight Liner Blues (Townes Van Zandt)
23. Can't Roll
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