Friday, July 24, 2015

Live Shows: Evan Dando & Willy Mason, TT the Bear's Place, Cambridge, MA 7/21/15

Even though there were six total acts playing this night for TT the Bear's final blowout week of shows, I'm going to focus on Willy Mason and Evan Dando. The Grown Up Noise started playing maybe five minutes after the doors opened and stopped with maybe 50 people in the venue total, The Dazies played a solo four song acoustic set, and I left before Runner & The Thermodynamics because they went on at 11:30, and I'm a grumpy old man with work the next day. The Thalia Zedek band was great, but I just never can connect with her music. I know it's great and I know I'm losing out, but it just doesn't grab me.

This last week of shows at TT the Bear's has been absolutely packed, with insane bills every night. Since the shows were booked last minute, and since Willy Mason isn't in the middle of a tour, I assumed it would just be him with a guitar. Instead he had four other musicians with him, because who could miss TT's last week of shows? They played three songs, including "Riptide," when Evan Dando joined them for the rest of the set on guitar and some backing vocals. The remainder of the set felt like The Band's The Last Waltz after that, with Evan Dando, viola player Nina Violet, and guitarist Marciana Jones (I believe that's her name after some rudimentary Googling; If I'm wrong, I apologize) all taking over lead vocals for songs. I'm pretty sure they even played a number of The Band's songs.

From there it transitioned into Dando's set without stopping, with Willy Mason and his band backing him for songs like "In the Grass All Wine Colored," "Losing Your Mind," and "Hard Drive." It also featured a ton of covers like The 13th Floor Elevators' "You're Gonna Miss Me" and The Velvet Underground's "I'll Be Your Mirror." At one point the the band left, except for Marciana Jones who played a few songs with Dando, including "My Drug Buddy," the only song played from It's a Shame About Ray. As with all the best Dando shows, this show felt completely loose without a certain list of songs he felt he needed to play, and just played what he felt like. It was also a bit of a glorious trainwreck because of this, but that is the Dando charm. He did a couple songs solo and continued the covers with The Frogs' "Homos." The end of the set saw original Lemonhead Ben Deily join him for four songs of Taaang! Records era classics like "Uhh" and "Amazing Grace."

It was a fantastic night of music that never would have happened if it wasn't for TT's closing. It was very bittersweet, but a great way to say goodbye to one of my favorite rock clubs. Farewell, TT's.