It was just the second song of the evening. Bob Schneider cozied up to the microphone to croon the opening lyrics, “It was a beautiful day/The sky was blue.” A few moments later, he and his bandmates were repeating the final lyric of the song over and over: “God will destroy everything you love if you live long enough.”
“That’s kind of a downbeat song,” Scheneider deadpanned afterward.
Throughout his show at The Linda in Albany on Friday night, the Austin singer-songwriter rode an emotional roller coaster from the harrowing heartbreak of “2002” to an zany, off-the-cuff jazz improv about Ricky, the pet raccoon.
“Somebody told me today that I had to keep the show PG,” explained Schneider, who has a reputation for often “working blue,” as old-time show biz vets like to say. The near-capacity crowd loudly voiced its disapproval at the announcement. “Yeah, I’m not crazy about it either,” he added, “but I do enjoy a challenge.”
He managed to do pretty good with it, too, only scattering a handful of expletives throughout his show and telling a few tales about his dick.
Sometimes playing electric guitar and sometimes switching over to do some one handed piano playing, Schneider also had two vocal microphones – a regular one and one that had a chorus effect on it. “It was either bring along a 50-piece choir or this microphone,” he explained. “The microphone drinks less.”
Stylistically, Schneider’s music is all over the map – and sometimes off the road entirely. Mariachi, rock, hip-hop, blues, samba, country, jazz – you name it, and Schneider and his versatile band – guitarist Bill Cassis, bassist Harmoni Kelley and drummer Conrad Choucroun – touched on it somewhere during their 105 minutes on stage. For the slinky, south of the border jazz-blues, “Slower Dear,” they even brought up Jay Thomas on stage to play steel drums, while Schneider blew a few trumpet solos.
Vocally, Schneider was just as eclectic, often displaying debts to Elvis Costello, Van Morrison, David Baerwald and others – sometimes even, unfortunately, Jack Johnson – and his lyric word-play was quite astonishing, as well.
An adventurous, rewarding show, and a long-overdue Nippertown debut for Schneider.
The less said about opening act the Steve Palmer Band, the better. I can only imagine that Schneider – or his booking agent – must have lost a bet…
You can also read my review in The Times Union.
In The Daily Gazette, Brian McElhiney wrote, “After the steel-drum led romp of ‘Slower Dear’ and an exceptionally silly pseudo-jazz jam in tribute to soundman and steel drum player Jay Thomas’s raccoon Ricky, the band launched into the wistful ’40 Dogs (Like Romeo and Juliet),’ before tearing through ‘2002.’ The latter song was hands down the highlight of the entire evening — a breakup song of incredible depth, which Schneider sang as if the heartbreak was still fresh on his mind.”
BOB SCHNEIDER SET LIST
Gold in the Sunset
Hand Me Back My Life
I Take My Time
40 Dogs (Like Romeo and Juliet)
Till Somebody Catches a Feeling
Big Blue Sea
Your Head Holds Gold, Your Heart Holds Diamonds
Ready, Let’s Roll
THE STEVE PALMER BAND SET LIST
Living on the Streets
I Think I Am in Love
Nothin’ to Do
Where Did Your Llove Go
Livin’ a Lie
No Words to Say
there was more, but I just couldn’t sit through it any longer…