Date: Mon 15 Jun, 2009 at 07:05
Headline: Thom's Gig Recap: Leaps Of Faith
Gah. I'm so out of practice with this sort of thing, I hardly know where to begin.
First, I have to give enormous props to the heavy lifting, both figurative and literal, of our friends Troy Fillmore and Ray Opheikens. From booking, promotion, and general organization to sound, lights, and excellent stage-managing, they both performed admirably and made our jobs so much easier. Troy even had both nights recorded and filmed, while Ray had musical duties with two of Friday’s bands. Without them these shows would not have been remotely possible.
Also, thanks to everyone who attended, it was nice to get such a warm reception after a six month break from playing live, good to know you guys are there for us. It was especially great to see so many friends and family members scattered amongst the crowd, and have the chance to catch up, however briefly, with some folks who had never seen us perform before, or at least not in a long while. Also, we had twice as many percussion implements to pass around this time, and the sound of the audience joining in for Thursday night's performance of "Trains" was a glorious racket. :)
On to the shows themselves... honestly, I was nervous about pulling all this off, but I had a blast on both nights, and I think this long-distance rehearsal thing with the rest of the guys isn't going to be as big of a problem as we had feared. Some of the tunes were a little looser than they might have ideally been, but the playing was solid in general and the spirits were definitely high, especially on Friday night. The acoustic/electric two night stand idea was another experimental aspect to this run. I'm not sure that we'll continue to do that every time out, but I found it really satisfying to be so thoroughly exploiting two different sides of our sound. A few people who managed to make both shows expressed to me their surprise -- in a complimentary sort of way, I hope -- that the band who played the casual, whimsical, singer-songwritery set on Thursday was also responsible for the adrenalized, bombastic, prog-rawk shenanigans on Friday.
In terms of personnel, the shows featured yet another new combination of the SoN extended family. I don't think we've played with Mike Thiriot and Dave Geiselmayr at the same time before (proving definitively that they're not the same person, in case anyone had doubts) and Mike did an especially impressive triple duty on Friday, playing with us, Rage For Order, and Available Light, the Rush tribute that he and Ray were debuting that night. Matt Wilson also joined us on Friday to sing backup on "Mr Serious," which was a brave gesture as he had just re-learned the tune backstage only minutes before...then minutes later, he took the stage to front Rage For Order and effortlessly blew us all away with his lungbusting Geoff Tate homage. It was wonderful welcoming Juli Holt-Matson back to the stage after a long absence. She looked and sounded awesome, and she and her husband Curtis thoughtfully brought some birthday cupcakes to Thursday's show. And speaking of treats, it's always fantastic to have John Flanders on board for a gig. He once again wowed the crowd on Thursday night with minimal rehearsal and maximum talent. One of these days we need to book him far enough in advance to tackle an electric show.
Set list wise, I tried to cover as many bases as I could. Most of the shows we played last year focused on new/unreleased tunes, partly because we were (and still are) very excited about them and partly because we were doing a lot of trio shows with Dave and it was easier for him to focus on the new stuff that he had recently laid down in the studio. We kept a few of those tunes for these shows but also decided to dig back into the catalog and provide a wider range of material. The acoustic shows continue to be a good setting for some of the quirkier songs like "Esperanto," "Join The Club," and "Solitary World," as well as an excellent chance to throw in whatever covers strike our fancy. Friday's grand finale of "Mr Serious" -- making its return to the set list after a year or so away -- was an immensely cathartic experience, and I was especially eager to unpack "Poison Ivy" from the mothballs, a tune which prominently features Juli's voice and shockingly hadn't been played live since 2001. None of us were sure it was going to work, but it felt good enough that I think we may keep it around for a while.
So I’ve managed to blather on about all of this for several paragraphs, but I still think Mr Meldrum has the more interesting story to tell. Amongst all the other folks who were instrumental in making these shows happen, Matt probably made the biggest leap of faith, and he informs be that a blog entry of his own is in the works.