|Photo by Ken Sears|
I was a bit concerned when I walked in as the show was starting. 3S Artspace tends to have an employee come out before the show and talk about the venue, their mission statement, and upcoming events. The crowd for the show skewed shockingly older, and most of the crowd was sitting in the few chairs lining the back walls of the room. Seeing as the show was sparsely attended (maybe 50 people in a 400 person venue), he encouraged everyone to move the seats to wherever they wanted. This made for a weird mix of people standing next to people in chairs throughout the show. Plus, I've been to poorly attended shows in the past, and it can really cause the artist to sleepwalk through the show until they can get offstage and still get paid. I remember one Matthew Sweet show at Axis where the guitarist was openly checking his watch during the third song.
Luckily, Lydia Loveless is not the type of artist to half ass it. Coming onstage and announcing "We are Lydia Loveless," Loveless also told the crowd they wanted to start off with a bang. Their bang was "Out On Love," the band's most melancholy song to date. The set list in Portsmouth was wildly different from the day before, and they tore through their more well known songs like "Head" and "Wine Lips" in the first few songs. They included a version of "Hurts So Bad" that was virtually unrecognizable from the album version. This wasn't in a negative way at all, but the song seems to have evolved quite a bit from when it was recorded for Somewhere Else. At the end of the set, the rest of the band left the stage, leaving Loveless alone for a four song acoustic set that included "Back On the Bottle" and the previous day's set opener "Really Wanna See You." When they all came back for an encore, Loveless stated she wanted to play fun songs. They opened with the not quite finished "European" (which she claimed was about being a pervert) and "All I Know" from the Boy Crazy EP. All said, the band played for just over two hours, in a ramshackle set that saw them having a blast. Even if Loveless had a Spinal Tap moment and let out a "Yeah, Providence" before correcting herself with a more generic "Yeah, New England!"
Coming out and immediately announcing "We are Lydia Loveless" shows how tight this band truly is. Instead of being a solo act, they are truly a unit that would sound wildly different if they replaced any member. The band's bassist tears into both his standard bass and stand up bass with the ferocity of a member of Anthrax. Guitarist and back up singer Todd May plays noise punk throughout what would normally be outlaw country. Jay Gasper brings an emotional feel to every song with third guitar and steel guitar. George Hondroulis is tasked with holding all these bizarre forces together with drums. They laid everything on that stage for the 50 most fortunate people in New Hampshire that night.