Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Daniel Lanois and His Band + Telegram

Daniel Lanois and His Band made their first appearance in Atlanta in years last night at the Earl. I was pretty excited about the show because of the size of the venue. It's pretty rare you get to see someone like this in such an intimate venue.

Before we were treated to Mr. Lanois, however, the Atlanta trio, Telegram, took the stage. Telegram are Troy Bieser (Vocals, Guitar) Robert Henson (Double Bass), and Jamie Shepard (Drums). They delivered a good set that really seemed to get the audience going. One special note about Telegram: how can you not like a band that uses a stand up bass, with the bassist using a bow as well and plucking at it madly at times. A stand up bass always equals cool. And when he used the bow, I could certainly see a good connection to Lanois' sound.

According to Flagpole (the alternative weekly from Athens), "Atlanta's excellent Telegram ... plays their heartbreaking torch-songs with a decidedly Rock n' Roll bent. " I'm not one to argue with that assessment. They also handled the transition from slow and quiet sounds to decidely driving and loud sounds, something that always impresses me when its well done. Notable songs include "Greek Song" and "Precious Thing", both of which the band has made available for download on their site. Their sound was a nice amalgam of a lot of different good influences (or so it seemed to me).

Daniel Lanois and His Band were met with a very enthusiastic crowd as they started their set with "Where Will I Be" from Emmylou Harris's album, Wrecking Ball. [Ed. Note: If you don't have this album, go get it. Now.] I mainly knew Daniel Lanois from his work on this album and the soundtrack from the movie Sling Blade, but based on those two alone, I was confident I'd really enjoy just about anything I heard last night (and I wasn't wrong). Throughout the evening, they relied on great harmonies, Lanois' sublime guitar work, driving or quiet drums (depending on the situation), and solid back up instrumentation (more about the steel guitar later). The set itself was definitely not cookie cutter. Many audience requests were honored throughout the night, taking the band far away from the set list at times.


Since I don't know most of the track names, I can only report my impressions of the show. Throughout the night, I had a million musical references bouncing around in my head, all very disparate. But they all seemed seamless integrated into Daniel Lanois sound, each one playing very well off the other. At different times in the evening, I thought of The Clash, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Bob Marley, and Warren Zevon. Any sound that can set off such different musical perceptions in my head over a set (and sometimes in the course of a single song) is impressive indeed. The "Delaware Project" in particular was sprawling, beautiful, energizing chaos--a jam really that had yet to shape itself into a song.

Finally, Nashville should really pay attention to how Daniel Lanois plays a steel guitar. Although he only played two instrumentals on it, it produced sounds that I've never heard before out of Nashville. All of it very lovely. The second, in particular, would make a great driving song.

So now, I'm getting ready to fire up the iTunes and add some Daniel Lanois to my collection. (I also hope to add a few photos to the post this evening.)

NP: "Squires @ Bristol" - Shots Fired

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