Last night, my guy (who suggested that his blog code name be "Big Ben" ) and I headed to The Troubadour for Rhett Miller's tour in support of his latest album,The Dreamer.Rhett is my absolute favorite songwriter and I always try to catch him when he is in town, usually 3-4 times a year. This is the second time that I have seen him play with the Serial Lady Killers.
For those out there not familiar with Rhett, he is the front man for the alt-country (or I prefer Cow-punk, if labels must be used) band, The Old 97's. When he is not working with the 97's, he also puts out solo albums, which tend to have more of a pop feel. Occasionally when he tours, he brings along his band for his solo career, The Serial Lady Killers. The Lady Killers are awesome musicians, but it is a tad weird to see them perform some of the 97's biggest hits. It's almost like the 97's are replaced by younger models. In particular, I missed Ken on Guitar. However, I do love seeing Angela Webster kill it on the drums. It seems so rare to have bands with female drummer kicking ass!
We arrived at the Troubadour really early to get in line, not realizing that the doors opened at eight. The ticket listed the event as starting at eight. Rhett came out and greeted the few of us waiting in line, so any annoyance was washed away as I turned into a blushing teenager. It's not only that he is so damn good looking, but he an incredibly talented writer. I go weak in the knees for talented writers!
The openers were,The Spring Standards, a band that I was entirely unfamiliar to me. They hail from Brooklyn, Great stuff. They played about eight songs, each sounding entirely different than the next. The lead singer, Heather Robb, felt like a mix between Stevie Nicks and Jenny Lewis. She had this amazing joyful energy as she sang, played drums and the keyboard (all in the same song). Rhett really gets some great openers for his shows and I always feel like I walk away with a new music discovery.
Rhett and the Serial Lady Killers hit the stage at ten. They opened with my favorite song off of the new album, Lost WIthout You. I had actually sent Rhett a request via Twitter for this song, but I guarantee that it was already on the set list! The concert was a very even mix of songs from all of Rhett's solo albums, the new album and songs recorded with the 97's. Mid set, Rhett gave the band a break and did a few solo songs, including a cover of a song from the British Band, The Wedding Present. David Gedge was said to have been in the audience. Rhett also did a somewhat soft acoustic version of Timebomb, I've never seen a show where Timebomb wasn't the closing song and this was the least hard core version I have ever heard. It was very cool!
Rhett Brought out Heather Robb to sing three songs with him, including one that she co-wrote on the new album. She also sang Fireflies as beautifully as Rachael Yamagata. Rhett did a three song encore, ending withOur Love.Another awesome concert. I left the Troubadour smiling and bouncing around to the songs stuck in my head.
A quick bit about the new album, The Dreamer. It's great, a bit more folk/country feel than his previous solo albums. This is the first album that Rhett produced himself on his new label Maximum Sunshine Records. It's a very reflective album. In particular, I love the following tracks- Lost Without You, Swimmin' In Sunshine and Picture This. As always the writing is strong with all of the tracks, a lot of word play and vague ideas that allow the lister to fill in their own story, I love that Rhett's songs tell stories and evoke emotion. His lyrics can go from being cheeky to cutting. Even a song like Picture This, which seems so sweet and sentimental, has a moment that is dark and questioning. Rhett never writes simple lyrics and that's what I love most about his writing.