Sunday, April 22, 2007

Mason Jennings - Gramercy Theater, NYC 4/21/07

If you need a reason as to why you're here
you don't need to look farther than me... - Mason Jennings
Truer words could not have been used to describe Saturday night at the Gramercy Theater here in NYC. Mason Jennings played a solid set of old classics and new favorites in front of a lively crowd that was as excited to see him as I was (which is saying something...). After some solo songs, drummer Peter Leggett (replacing Brian Mcleod, who left to play for Minneapolis rapper Atmosphere) and new bassist Arabella Kaufman (replacing the recently departed Chris Morrisey) entered the stage and backed up Mason for most of the night.

I hadn't seen Mason live since last summer when I went with my brothers for a homecoming show back in Minneapolis at the Orpheum. While Saturday night's performance wasn't as incredible as the Minneapolis show, Mason still had plenty of energy and enthusiasm as he jammed through such highlights as "Butterfly," "Crown," "The Light, Pt. 2," and "Jackson Square."

Mason played a few songs that I hadn't heard before: "Fighter Girl" and "Sacred Place." I just found out that they were released on a special If You Need a Reason - EP that I must have missed. I really liked "Fighter Girl," with its tender lyrics and soothing tones that only Mason can provide.

The concert really picked up with "Be Here Now," as the first three heavy notes almost signaled a change in tempo for the night. I was stoked when he wailed on his harp for "Crown," lending credence to his Dylan comparisons.

I'm not sure why this is, but there are a couple of songs that Mason has put out that come across vastly different in person. The first song that I noticed this with was "Godless" from his self-titled debut album. I always skipped this track when I first bought it back in '99 because it was so angry and harsh, totally unconnected to the rest of the cd. However, the first time I saw Mason live, this was the best song of the show. I was moved deep down inside as he screamed, inciting a jolt of adrenaline and pure exhilaration. Now, "Godless" is one of my favorite songs to listen to either live or on cd. The same goes with "Some Say I'm Not." He played this at the Minneapolis concert this summer and I loved it. Both were great last night as usual, especially with "Godless" to end the first set on such a high note.

After a solo "Adrian" (my favorite Mason tune...) in the encore, he finished the night with a new song he's been working on called "Born to Be a Soldier-Boy" that sounded plenty good to my ears.

  1. Ballad for My One True Love
  2. Nothing
  3. Fighter Girl
  4. Be Here Now
  5. Butterfly
  6. Crown
  7. Where the Sun Has Been
  8. The Mountain
  9. Sacred Place
  10. The Light, Pt. 2
  11. Sorry Signs on Cash Machines
  12. If You Ain't Got Love
  13. California
  14. Jackson Square
  15. If You Need a Reason
  16. Some Say I'm Not
  17. Godless
  1. Jesus, Are You Real?
  2. Adrian
  3. Born to Be a Soldier-Boy (*new*)
Per usual, it was an excellent show from one of my all-time favorites. Head on over to Mason's MySpace page for "Be Here Now," "If You Need a Reason" (steadily climbing up my top Mason tracks list), "Fighter Girl," and "Big Sur."

So for all of you who couldn't make it out last night, here's one of Mason's legendary home shows in Minneapolis back in 2004 (at the State Theatre).

Mason Jennings - Live at the Historic State Theater (2/13/04):
  1. Intro
  2. Let the Train Blow the Whistle
  3. No More Auction Block
  4. The Light
  5. Drinking As Religion
  6. Ulysses
  7. Empire Builder
  8. The Light, Pt. 2
  9. Butterfly
  10. Bullet
  11. Lemon Grove Avenue
  12. Ballad For My One True Love
  13. Nobody's Fault But Mine
  14. The Mountain
  15. Angeles
  16. The Flood
  17. Adrian
  18. Southern Cross
  19. Killer's Creek
  20. Keepin' It Real
  21. Crown
  22. Ballad of Paul and Sheila
  23. In Your City
  24. Sorry Signs on Cash Machines
  25. Summer Dress
  26. Fourteen Pictures
  27. Duluth
  28. California, Pt. 2
  29. Darkness Between the Fireflies

Opener side note:
A sister vocalist duo, The Pierces, (Catherine was once engaged to Albert Hammond, Jr. of the Strokes...) opened the show and while their syncronized dancing and seemingly scripted banter was unnecessary, they were actually pretty good. I've been on a female vocalist kick lately (Feist, Cat Power, Norah Jones, Tristan Prettyman...) and this was right up my alley for an opener. Their band kicked some ass and the Pierces' sultry voices sounded tempting throughout the whole set, especially "Sticks and Stones." It also didn't hurt they were both knockouts, but that's beside the point...kind of. Check out some samples here for a quick taste of their style...


Jack the Rabbit said...

use your voice now tops my wish list.

second on the list: st. dominic's preview by van morrison.

heather said...

Nice review, thanks for the link. Now I am looking forward to the show even more! I like the show you linked to that "In Your City" song is so fantastic.