longbutton.jpg
Click the photo for an audio slideshow of Saturday's set. Click here to download an iPod-ready version. 

The Long Winters
Date:
  April 14, 2007

"/>

Last Night: The Long Winters at the Showbox

Roderick and company bring a little Chicago back to Seattle.

longbutton.jpg
Click the photo for an audio slideshow of Saturday's set. Click here to download an iPod-ready version. 

The Long Winters
Date:
  April 14, 2007
Venue:  The Showbox

Pop quiz -- The Long Winters' gig at the Showbox on Saturday night was:  A) A homecoming celebration for the much-loved Seattle quartet after more than two months of touring Europe and North America behind their recent Putting the Days to Bed; B) A chance for frontman John Roderick to show off his impressive collection of vintage guitars; C) An evening in which Roderick and company elevated their solid, occasionally brilliant recorded material into something truly special live; D) A concert being filmed for DVD release later this year; or E) All of the above.

The answer is B ... nah, it's E, of course.  After a few years of being a casual fan, though not as blown away by Roderick's songwriting as a lot of people are, this was the first time I'd seen the Long Winters live, and I was really impressed by the mustachioed, bespectacled, grinning Roderick's natural showmanship -- his ease behind the mic whether singing or hamming it up for the nearly sold-out crowd -- as well the band's tight musicianship and enthusiasm.

Playing nearly all of the tracks from Putting the Days to Bed, and filling out the rest of the 20-song with a few tunes from their two previous full-lengths and the Ultimatum EP, Roderick (who mainly stuck to playing guitar, several of them, though he switched to keyboards for a couple of songs) -- along with bassist/keyboardist Eric Corson, drummer Nabil Ayers, and keyboardist/guitarist Jonathan Rothman, plus a three-member horn section present for nearly half the set -- opened with "Scared Straight" and proceeded to barrel through two hours of punchy power-pop, retro soul, bittersweet ballads, and brightly hued, good ol' indie guitar-rock.  While the more forceful, rollicking songs elicited the most cheers, I most enjoyed the more wistful compositions, like "Unsalted Butter" and a show-stopping "The Commander Thinks Aloud," during which Roderick dripped sweat and regret all over his center-stage keyboard.

Perhaps because the show was, as mentioned, being filmed for DVD release, Roderick brought a couple of guests onstage throughout the performance -- man-about-town Ben Gibbard sat in on drums for one song mid-set, and Pretty Parlor proprietor Anna Lange sang, strutted about a bit, and showed off her kazoo skills for a couple of tunes.  Repeatedly insisting on his band's inherent sexiness, and thanking the people for showing up to welcome them home, Roderick graciously avoided the whole "encore" rigmarole by just keeping the band onstage for a handful of set cappers, culminating around one in the morning with a fantastic, rousing cover of Chicago's "Feelin' Stronger Every Day" -- as Roderick put it by way of introduction, "When you've got a horn section with you, you gotta do a Chicago song."

 

 
comments powered by Disqus