Silver Jews Hailey's Club September 20, 2008
Better Than: Robert Wilonsky’s “Till 2” show on The Ticket...if only for a night.
Taking the stage in thick glasses, a western suit and a belt buckle emblazoned with “Joos,” Berman looked a little like Tony Clifton’s Nashville cousin as the band launched into “What Is Not But Could Be If,” the lead track off its sixth album, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea. Unlike Clifton, however, Berman was a gracious performer, thanking the enthusiastic crowd repeatedly throughout the set and humbly stepping to the back of the stage for solos by guitarists Peyton Pinkerton and William Tyler, as well as lead vocal turns by his lovely wife Cassie, whose singing on “Suffering Jukebox” was easily one of the more memorable moments of the evening.
Four songs in, the band delivered the goods with “Dallas,” satisfying the locals even as Berman flubbed one of his own lyrics, forgetting the “Is it true your analyst was a place kicker for the Falcons?” line. “Inside the Golden Days of Missing You” segued directly into the vicious “K-Hole,” with Berman exclaiming, “I'd rather live in a trash can/Than see you happy with another man” as he looked directly at his wife, a slightly creepy trick he repeated several times throughout the performance.
Seemingly shocked by the crowd’s warm reception, Berman decided he would scrap his speech on the evils of “Texcentrism,” closing out the set with older favorites like “Trains Across the Sea” and “The Wild Kindness” before returning for not one, but two encores, something he claimed had happened only once before in their 83 previous shows.
And though the show ended abruptly with the band’s drummer yanking a guitar from the hands of an unruly fan--who decided to jam on “Sometimes A Pony Gets Depressed” after Peyton Pinkerton left the stage--it seemed a strangely appropriate end for a wonderfully weird night of music. Honestly, I thought the dude kinda ripped, anyway. --Noah W. Bailey
Critic’s Notebook Personal Bias: I’ve been sporting a Silver Jews t-shirt since I first saw the band in 2005.
Random Note: Opener James Jackson Toth, formerly known as Wooden Wand, said he’d started out the tour with a full band, though he appeared all by his lonesome on Saturday, running through a couple of Wooden Wand favorites sprinkled among his strangely smooth new solo material. Honestly, his set was a little monotonous, but I give the guy bonus points for showing his respect to the locals, as he had more than a few kind words for The Baptist Generals.
By The Way: You might have seen Jews guitarist Peyton Pinkerton in Denton before, playing with the Pernice Brothers.
Set List: “What Is Not But Could Be If” (Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea) “Random Rules” (American Water) “Suffering Jukebox” (Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea) “Dallas” (The Natural Bridge) “Horseleg Swastikas” (Bright Flight) “Aloyisius, Bluegrass Drummer” (Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea) “I’m Getting Back into Getting Back into You” (Tanglewood Numbers) “My Pillow Is The Threshold” (Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea) “Inside The Golden Days of Missing You” (The Natural Bridge) “K-Hole” (Tanglewood Numbers) “Strange Victory, Strange Defeat” (Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea) “Slow Education” (Bright Flight) “Smith & Jones Forever” (American Water) “Trains Across The Sea” (Starlite Walker) “The Wild Kindness” (American Water) “We Could Be Looking For The Same Thing” (Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea)
ENCORE “Pretty Eyes” (The Natural Bridge) “Tennessee” (Bright Flight) “Punks in the Beerlight” (Tanglewood Numbers)
ENCORE 2 “Sometimes a Pony Gets Depressed” (Tanglewood Numbers)