Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Hollywood Town Hall

The Jayhawks at The Phoenix in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangMy affection for The Jayhawks goes a long ways back, but not quite far enough. I became a fan around ’96, when I got a copy of Tomorrow The Green Grass via the old BMG Music Club – remember that? – by which point co-frontman Mark Olson had already left the band. Which meant that the only Jayhawks I got to experience in real-time was the second incarnation of the band, led solely by Gary Louris. And so while I appreciate why folks refer to the lineup that made Green Grass and Hollywood Town Hall as the “classic” lineup, I will always rise to the defense of any of Smile, Sound Of Lies or Rainy Day Music should someone try to diminish their worth.

That said, seeing Olson centre-stage at The Phoenix on Tuesday night fronting the reunited Jayhawks on the occasion of the deluxe reissue of those two timeless records, it was impossible to deny there was a certain kind of magic about the show generated by the reunion of he and Louris. Most obviously it was there in their vocals and the way their harmonies interlocked – as good as they sounded individually it was like their voices were meant to be together for always – but also in the way their guitars played off one another, Olson’s acoustic rhythm and Louris’ searing electric leads reminding that they played both sides of the country-rock tag equally and just that undefinable but undeniable chemistry between them. I’d seen the Louris-led Jayhawks in this same room back in 2004 and a short Olson solo in-store in 2007 and both more than stood tall on their own, but together with their old bandmates and those songs? Wow. If you ever want an example of two artists who just belong together, it’s them.

As befit the occasion, the hour-forty-five set stopped the clock at 1995 (save for a short excursion to 2003 when drummer Tim O’Regan sang “Tampa To Tulsa” from Rainy Day Music) and showcased broad swathes of Tomorrow The Green Grass and Hollywood Town Hall along with b-sides from the aforementioned reissues, as well as going back to their self-titled debut for a few and airing out some new songs from their just-completed new record. While it’s too early to comment on the quality of the new songs, they certainly had that vintage Jayhawks feel about them which, as far as first impressions go, is all anyone can ask. And as good as it is that The Jayhawks are intent on being a creatively active concern, on this night the fans were out to hear the old stuff and they got it.

The execution wasn’t always perfect – there were some off-harmonies, some missed cues, and by the show-closing jam on “Lights” the band’s tiredness was showing – but the spirit of the evening, both the celebration of their works and the gratitude that so many had come out to witness their return, more than carried them through those patches. Even though they promised a return engagement later in the Summer after their record was released, this first night of the tour and the official return of The Jayhawks was a special, singular occasion.

The Calgary Herald, Chicago Tribune, Exclaim, Blurt and The Aquarian have interviews with Louris and Olson while Spinner, Exclaim and American Songwriter were in attendance at the show.

Photos: The Jayhawks @ The Phoenix – January 18, 2011
Video: The Jayhawks – “Save It For A Rainy Day”
Video: The Jayhawks – “Big Star”
Video: The Jayhawks – “Blue”
Video: The Jayhawks – “Waiting For The Sun”
Video: The Jayhawks – “Settled Down Like Rain”
Myspace: The Jayhawks

Donewaiting talks to Sharon Van Etten and The National’s Aaron Dessner, who is working with her on her next record, while Philadelphia Weekly chats with her on her own. Van Etten is at The Drake Underground on April 12.

The National’s episode of Austin City Limits, which also features a set from Iron & Wine Band Of Horses, is now available to stream online.

Iron & Wine’s new record Kiss Each Other Clean is currently available to stream at Team Coco in advance of its release next Tuesday. The Sydney Morning Herald has a talk with Sam Beam.

Stream: Iron & Wine – “Kiss Each Other Clean”

Under The Radar and The New Zealand Herald talk to Alex Scally of Beach House.

There’s an MP3 available from the new Drive-By Truckers album Go-Go Boots, due out February 22. The Broward Palm Beach New Times talks to Patterson Hood about the new record.

MP3: Drive-By Truckers – “Used To Be A Cop”

There’s a new She & Him video. Yes, it’s full of Zooey. Yes, it’s adorable. No, that’s probably not Matt Ward dancing.

Video: She & Him – “Don’t Look Back”

The first MP3 from The Mountain Goats’ new record All Eternals Deck is now up for grabs. It’s out March 29 and they’re at The Opera House on April 3.

MP3: The Mountain Goats – “Damn These Vampires”

And also in the “why couldn’t they have released this yesterday when I posted the tour dates”, the first MP3 from the new DeVotchKa record 100 Lovers, out March 1. They’re at The Mod Club on March 30.

MP3: DeVotchKa – “One Hundred Other Lovers”

Rolling Stone gets some specifics on the new Strokes record, out March 22 and possibly called Angles.

By : Frank Yang at 8:28 am
Category: Concert Reviews

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

RSS Feed for this post7 Responses.
  1. mike says:

    I saw The Jayhawks the first and only time at Primavera a few years ago. They were so solid and while I have all their albums on CD, honestly I never really listened to them that much. But maybe I’ll pop them in to the CD player after reading your review.

    I’m still pondering Primavera, or perhaps Coachella. Ultimately may not go to either. We’ll see.

    And I’m so psyched for the BSP show especially now that A Classic Education are opening. I saw them at CMJ and I LOVED them. They come from that early 80’s UK pop tradition – traces of The Smiths, maybe Echo – I think you’ll like them. The lead singer was originally born in Ottawa, Ontario but moved to Bologna, Italy when he was 15 years old – I think the rest of the band is from Italy. So glad they’re making the trip to Canada. (maybe the lead singer’s gonna visit relatives too?)

    And Mountain Goats coming too. I’ve been meaning to see them live and regret missing their last few passes through town.

  2. Tweets that mention .: v7.5 » Blog Archive » The Jayhawks at The Phoenix in Toronto -- says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Derek Fincham, MyMusicFeeds. MyMusicFeeds said: The Jayhawks at The Phoenix in Toronto: Frank YangMy affection for The Jayhawks goes a long ways back, but not q… […]

  3. neil says:

    FYI – it’s Band of Horses with the National on that episode of ALC.

  4. Frank Yang says:


  5. Afrobutterfly says:

    Anybody else consider “Smile” one of the very best pop albums of the last decade? As Frank alludes, I’m in the minority here, but I think that record is the band’s crowning achievement – Olson or no Olson. Glad everybody’s back together, though, and “Ready For The Flood” would suggest the pair still has the old magic.

  6. Bernard Yin says:

    Very nice to see a 2011 post online about this great band. Thanks!

  7. TG says:

    Great Show. Hopefully on the new CD Tim`s vocals won`t be pushed to the back now that Mark is once again flying with the Jayhawks, I think he adds a lot to the harmonies of the group. Also I know this might be blasphemy but Gary Louris doesn`t need to solo on every song, we get it Gary your a fantastic guitarist.