Concert Review: Jayhawks, January 18, Phoenix Concert Theatre

Paul, 2011

The Jayhawks are one of those bands that I started paying attention to too late. By the time I had started to notice, it was already 2003 (where Gary Louris had released their last real album, Rainy Day Music) and the Americana movement of the early and mid-90’s had already seemingly passed by. It’s too bad, because this was probably my favorite sub-genre of alternative music (certainly country), spinning off into other great, though less country-sounding stuff like Grant Lee Buffalo (whatever happened to them!?).

With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that I was a little bit lost at the show last night, which featured their original mid-90’s lineup with Mark Olson (one of the original co-founders with Gary Louris, who left the band to be with his then-wife Victoria Williams while she struggled with MS). I recognized a few of the big songs from Tomorrow the Green Grass like Blue, but generally found that I was listening fresh–and liked what I heard. It was really their ability to harmonize golden simplicity and gruff complexity that stuck me. Acts of today should take note: harmony can make the difference between lifeless and alive.

As Toronto was the first date in what is being dubbed as their “Reunion Tour,”I can understand why so many folks showed up last night (to the extent that Olson was likening our collective odor to skunk B.O.) to see these two play together again. Although I felt the original catalogue of alt-country-rocking that a lot of their fans came out to see felt a little like they were going through the motions…I reiterate that I think we should encourage artists that reunite and actually create new material to play this new material instead of juke-boxing every perceived hit. Like Sherry Bobbins says, “I’m not a bloody jukebox!” There is always a new and better energy with the new (with the exception of a B-side they played that will be on their upcoming release, which I only remember as being described by Olson as a “dark place”) that didn’t play over as well. But again, I note that it was Louris’s voice and the harmonization with Olson’s that really made me pay attention…songs like I’d Run Away, Two Hearts, and the highlight of the show for me–Bad Time.

These guys are definitely a classic example of an act that, as good as they are in the studio, are about a million times better live…helped in large part by the fact that Louris’s 24K voice would make anyone melt into a puddle. Louris’s current protege, Canadian Kristen Jones joined them on keyboards and back-up vocals and I’m sure had a hand in kicking things off in Toronto. I implore Gary to stay so that I might marry his voice.

Someone please post the setlist.

02 Tried And True Love by METRO Magazine

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Posted on by Allison in Concerts

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Crankypants.

2 Responses to Concert Review: Jayhawks, January 18, Phoenix Concert Theatre

  1. Thierry

    While I enjoyed the show as much as you did, I thought I’d point out that the keyboard player was Karen Grotberg – not Kirsten (not Kristen) Jones – who was part of the classic lineup of the Jayhawks.

    Also, I think Olson was referring more to something being smoked in the crowd than to its numbers when he made the skunk comment…

  2. Allison

    Wow, my bad. Also didn’t smell any weed..but I was near the back.

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