Singer-guitarist-bandleader David Lowery almost did the impossible on Tuesday night at Revolution Hall in Troy. He nearly upstaged himself.
That is to say, in front of a jam-packed and very enthusiastic crowd, opening act Camper Van Beethoven nearly stole the show from headliners Cracker. Almost, but not quite.
Lowery, you see, heads up both bands. And he did a yeoman’s job pulling double duty, as did drummer Frank Funaro.
College radio faves of the ’80s, the revived six-piece Camper fired up a whirlwind 70-minute set that slammed a variety of musical styles together. Heavy metal riffage collided with Jonathan Segel‘s Eastern European violin filagree. Klezmer smashed into punk rave-up. And during “Good Guys, Bad Guys,” pop hooks melted into dub reggae fired up by country twang guitar.
A spot-on cover of Status Quo’s classic slice of ’60s psychedelia, “Pictures of Matchstick Men,” was one of the biggest crowd-pleasers, as was CVB’s own gem, “Take the Skinheads Bowling,” but about two-thirds of the way through their set, CVB seemed to lose steam, slipping into auto-pilot and coasting to the end of their show.
Not so with Cracker, who came charging out of the gate with “Friends” and never let up, keeping their slammin’, 90-minute show in high gear as they crashed through such faves as “Teen Angst,” “Eurotrash Girl” and “Low.”
Along the way, they dropped in some funk (“Get Off This,” “How Can I Live Without You”), Byrds-like chiming (“Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out With Me”), Neil Young-ish neanderthal stomp (“One Fine Day”), a Dylan cover (guitarist Johnny Hickman‘s take on “The Man in Me”) and a healthy dose of straight-up alt-country twang (“Mr. Wrong,” “Wedding Day”).
Two great shows in one night. On a school night in January. Now that’s something that you don’t get to see very often.
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk. Click here to see more of Andrzej’s photos from this show.
Read my review in The Times Union.
CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN SET LIST
Eye of Fatima, Part I
The Long Plastic Hallway
Good Guys, Bad Guys
Take the Skinheads Bowling
Pictures of Matchstick Men (Status Quo)
All Her Favorite Fruit
The Day That Lassie Went to the Moon
Opi Rides Again, Club Med Sucks
White Riot (the Clash)
Shut Us Down
CRACKER SET LIST
Yalla Yalla (Let’s Go)
One Fine Day*
Gimme One More Chance*
Happy Birthday to Me*
The Man in Me (Dylan)
Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out With Me
How Can I Live Without You
Get Off This*
Another Song About the Rain*
* – with special guest David Immergluck on pedal steel guitar, mandolin, electric guitar, backing vocals