LIVE: Todd Snider @ The Egg, 3/10/12

Todd Snider
Todd Snider

Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

The bar in the lobby was doing a brisk business, and several fans in the sold-out crowd were apparently loose enough to think that maybe Todd Snider was their good buddy. Or that he’d play whatever songs they wanted him to play. Or maybe they just thought that yelling out requests was a good way to get a performer’s attention.

After the marvelous, John Prine-like character study “Iron Mike’s Main Man’s Last Request,” a barrage of six or eight rapid-fire song requests came shouted out from all corners of the jam-packed theater. Snider simply cocked his head, peeked out from under his hat and said firmly, “We actually have a boss-me-around portion of the show scheduled for later in the night.”

And then rather than playing one of the rowdy, raucous numbers that the loud-mouthed members of the crowd wanted to hear, Snider stayed the course, sliding into “Just Like Old Times,” another wistful, subtle tune about the reunion of two of society’s marginal hard-luck misfits, with its pithy chorus:

“Old times
Just like the old times
Living out our own kind of American dream

Old times
Your goal was always the same as mine
You didn’t want to throw your fishing line
In that old mainstream”

Describing himself at The Egg as “a stoner folk musician,” Snider seems to found his own kind of success without fishing in the mainstream, too. Although he and his band – bassist Eric McConnell and drummer Paul Griffin – cultivated a laconic, ramshackle attitude onstage Snider is an unquestionably fine and devoted craftsman when it comes to the art of songwriting. And while his tunes nestled most comfortably alongside the work of the like-minded songwriters that he covered on Saturday night – Fred Eaglesmith, Robert Earl Keen, Woody Guthrie and Guy Clark – he also veered off the predictable path into territory most often charted by Hoagy Carmichael and Randy Newman (the wry ballad “Precious Little Miracles”), the Rolling Stones (the anthemic rocker “Easy Money”) and John Lee Hooker (the one-chord boogie of “45 Miles,” with its prophetic lyric, “I should have known something was wrong when I started thinking things were alright”).

Sure enough, a couple of tunes later, some loudmouth in the crowd yelled up at the stage again. With a weary but exasperated look on his face, Snider cut off his story in mid-sentence and charged ahead for a couple of last tunes, including the fractured soul-blues encore of “Big Finish,” in which he explained, “Some people can’t take no for an answer / some people can’t even take yes for an answer.”

Like Snider, opening act Ashleigh Flynn was as much a storyteller as a singer-songwriter. And she hit the mark with a few autobiographical tunes from her latest album, “American Dream” (including the title track), but she lost her pacing with her mid-set ukulele tune – is it written somewhere that every concert must now include at least one song on uke? – “Much Too Proud to Be Your Fool,” which was woefully out of tune.

Excerpt from Brian McElhiney’s review at The Daily Gazette: “The evening really took off when Snider strapped on his electric again for the back half of the set. Highlights included another new song, the savage ‘New York Banker,’ featuring some fine interplay between Snider’s roaring guitar playing and McConnell’s snaking bass; and the thundering ‘Bring ’Em Home.’ ‘Play a Train Song’ towards the end of the set was easily the best thing Snider and company played all evening, the loping chord changes brought home by the trio’s muscular power.”

In the Beginning
Too Soon to Tell
Lookin’ for a Job
Iron Mike’s Main Man’s Last Request
Just Like Old Times
Precious Little Miracles
Alcohol and Pills (Fred Eaglesmith)
New York Banker
Mission Accomplished
Bring ‘Em Home
45 Miles
Corpus Christi Bay (Robert Earl Keen)
Play a Train Song
Easy Money
Alright Guy
Goin’ Down the Road (Woody Guthrie) > Come From the Heart (Guy Clark)
Big Finish

Hazard County
Goodbye, Tennessee
Much Too Proud to Be Your Fool
American Dream
Deep River Hollow

Todd Snider
Todd Snider
Todd Snider
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