Thursday, September 6, 2018

Live Shows: Shovels & Rope, Prescott Park Arts Festival, Portsmouth, NH 8/31/18

Photo by Ken Sears
Before last Friday I had technically seen Shovels & Rope three times. The first two were both at the Newport Folk Festival, but I only caught a handful of songs each time. The third was at the Green River Festival, but that is still a shortened festival performance. I had yet to see a full Shovels & Rope set, so when I saw they were playing at Prescott Park this year, I knew I had to make the trek up, even though it was the Friday of Labor Day weekend.

Regardless of traffic, the trip was completely worth it. One of the great joys of Shovels & Rope live is watching the interplay between husband and wife Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst. The duo take turns switching between guitar, drums, keys, etc. I'm not sure if they ever have the same role in a song more than once in a row. This night the band dove deep into their catalog. Only two songs came from their most recent album (2016's Little Seeds). The majority came from O' Be Joyful and Swimmin' Time, but they even delved into their solo careers a bit ("When I..." by Trent and "The Thread" by Hearst.) Some of the highlights of the show came early on with "Tickin' Bomb" and "The Devil is All Around." Dedicating "I'm Coming Out" to the LBGT community seemed to annoy some of the crowd in Conservative New Hampshire, but by "Hail Hail" any right wing worries were eradicated. That song will always be a barn burning crowd pleaser. The band performed a short two song encore which included a cover of Chuck Berry's beyond iconic "You Never Can Tell." Just one cover was a bit surprising since this is a band that has made two covers albums in the recent past. But, after finally seeing a full 90 minute Shovels & Rope show, I made the long Friday night drive home satisfied and happy.

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