LIVE: J.D. McPherson @ the Iron Horse Music Hall, 3/8/17
Review & photographs by Ed Conway
Despite the fact that it was still winter, a trip to Northampton was in order, as the Iron Horse Music Hall was the closest J.D. McPherson was coming to the Greater Nippertown area on his current tour. Luckily, the weather cooperated and was almost spring like, at least for a couple more days.
If you are unfamiliar with McPherson, the easiest way to describe his style is pure rock that touches on rockabilly, and he’s certainly a Nippertown favorite. The first time I saw him was at Troy’s Ale House, where he brought his five-piece band, which included an upright bass and keyboards, complete with a Leslie speaker. Add in the full house and you can imagine how cozy it was. Removing the tables helped, but it was still elbow-to-elbow. Fortunately, the music transformed the room into one big party. Fast forward a few years, and McPherson and band were in a much larger space, but the results were still the same – a packed house and giant party.
The band opened their hour-and-a-half set with “Bossy,” a mid-tempo rocker to get everyone in the mood. During the evening, each of the musicians was given a chance to be in the spotlight. Keyboard player Raynier Jacildo’s turn came up first with a fantastic solo during “Crazy Horse.” McPherson was up next with “I Can’t Complain,” as he put his TK Smith custom guitar through its paces.
Things slowed down from the dizzying pace of the evening as McPherson eased into Nick Lowe’s “Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day” which had the sold-out audience dead silent in rapt attention. “It Shook Me Up” featured Doug Corcoran (guitar and sax) on Danelectro baritone guitar as a nice counterpoint to bassist Jimmy Sutton’s spot-on rhythm. In fact, Sutton and drummer Jason Smay were locked in perfect rhythm all night.
Stepping out to have a little fun, the band launched into the Sonics’ version of Richard Berry’s “Have Love Will Travel,” which had the audience bouncing as much as possible, considering the entire dance floor was full of tables… leading one patron to lament the fact on their Facebook post. Still, it didn’t stop everyone from dancing, and the standing-room-only crowd inched up the aisles as the set moved on. By the time the set was finishing up with “Let the Good Times Roll,” the aisles were full, and the steps leading to the loft were beginning to draw people.
It’s hard to pick a highlight of the evening as the band deftly shifted from fast rocking ala Jimi Hendrix on “Bad Luck” (complete with controlled feedback) to the aforementioned Nick Lowe song, keeping the audience thoroughly engaged throughout.
Opening the show was Eli Catlin, whose set consisted of old-timey blues played finger-style on both resonator and acoustic guitars. While he seemed nervous between songs as he explained the history behind his songs, showing a huge amount of research, the audience welcomed him warmly.
J.D. McPHERSON SET LIST
I Wish You Would (Billy Boy Arnold)
I Can’t Complain
Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day (Nick Lowe)
It Shook Me Up
On My Lips
Have Love, Will Travel (Richard Berry)
You Must Have Met Little Caroline?
Mother of Lies
Head Over Heels
Let The Good Times Roll
Steal Away (Jimmy Hughes)
North Side Gal