Friday, April 27, 2018

Live Shows: Margo Price and Aaron Lee Tasjan, Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA 4/25/18

Since Margo Price had my #3 album of 2016 and my #1 album of 2017 and her set was the highlight of the 2016 Green River Festival, I've been dying to see her perform her own show, but it's just never worked out until this past Wednesday, when her Nowhere Fast tour came to Boston at the Paradise. Knowing it's only a matter of time until she moves out of clubs, I had to go out too late on a work night.

Playing her own set in front of her own adoring fans and not a shortened festival set in front of a crowd gave Price more freedom. She moved from guitar to keyboards and even drums in a way that felt organic and not just showing off. If she did showing off, she did it in her absolute mastery of a live performance. She and her band are impossibly polished for clubs, and it showed in each and every song. Songs like "A Little Pain" and "All American Made" just take on a whole new life live. My favorite song at Green River was once again my favorite at the Paradise, despite being reworked. "Four Years of Chances" previously was done with Price putting down the guitar and just singing. At the Paradise, she played some punk rock guitar over the song, giving it a fresh sound and a fitting edge. Even on extended jams the band seemed poised for greatness (and showed off Price's jam band heritage). At the end of "Cocaine Cowboys," price manned a second drum set at the end of the song in what could have been a little self serving. Instead the band found in intense groove in what could have been the end of Tom Petty's "Runnin' Down a Dream." The only reason I'm not convinced it was a secret Petty tribute is that four songs later she brought up opener Aaron Lee Tasjan to help her with "Mary Jane's Last Dance."

Aaron Lee Tasjan is another artist that's about to leap into the mainstream. Years ago, I'd go to a show with little to no knowledge of the opener, just the name, if that. I could then be blown away out of nowhere. Nowadays, I'm going to at least check out a few songs, so the only way an artist can blow me away is by blowing their recorded output away live. That's what Aaron Lee Tasjan does. His 2016 album, Silver Tears, is a solid album on the mainstream side of alt country. Live? The two can't even be compared. Tasjan has mastered the art of rambling storyteller in between songs, and he's just so charming that he can even make the goofiest dad jokes hilarious. ("I'm Aaron Lee Tasjan... I hope I'm saying that right.") Plus, any male country singer that can rock a checkered and floral print dress on stage is a-ok in my book. Songs like "Memphis Rain" and "12 Bar Blues" benefited from his telling the stories behind them. While Margo Price is alt country meets jam band, Aaron Lee Tasjan is alt country meets indie rock. Anyone can, and will, enjoy his performance, but if Arlo Guthrie fronting Built to Spill sounds like a dream come true, you could very well become obsessed if you see him live.

If this tour comes to your city, you need to check it out. There is no way you'll be seeing these two in venues this small after this.

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