The Current | March 15, 1999
Son Volt heats up stage
Son Volt wrapped up the tour supporting their latest release, "Wide Swing Tremolo," with two consecutive sold out shows at Mississippi Nights on Feb. 26 and Feb. 27.
Throughout most of February, Son Volt toured across the nation, playing a show almost every night. The last two shows were not only the end to this grueling schedule, they were also a chance for the band to play for their friends and family.
Singer and guitarist Jay Farrar and drummer Mike Heidorn both come from the St. Louis vicinity and had much of their family and friends in attendance. Some of the more recognizable guests were Freddy Friction of the Highway Matrons and some of the members of The Bottlerockets.
The opening act was singer/songwriter Richard Buckner who was backed up by his girlfriend on the drums. Buckner's solemn folk/rock performance suited the crowd's tastes, and he was very well-received. Son Volt's performance reflected the sound of their new release—more rock n' roll than ever.
Son Volt performed almost every song off of "Wide Swing Tremolo" with amazing accuracy and tasteful arrangements, further supporting their reputation as one of the finest live bands around.
The rock songs from the release such as Flow, Question, Right on Through and Straightface were just as impressive as the recordings with their dropped tunings, mellow vocal harmonies, driving rhythms, and powerful endings.
The new release's slower folk and country inspired tunes, such as Hanging Blue Side, Carry You Down, and Dead Man's Clothes, were a surprise to hear since the recorded versions employ organs and pedal steel guitars. However, multi-instrumentalist Dave Boquist compensated with beautiful fiddle playing.
"Wide Swing Tremolo's" other more uncategorical songs, like Driving the View, Medicine Hat, and Blind Hope, were also just as good, if not better, than the recording.
Of course, mixed within their new material were various gems from Son Volt's two previous recordings, Trace, and Straightaways. Songs, such as Tear Stained Eye (which featured a harmonica solo by Farrar), Caryatid Easy, an electric version of Windfall, Live Free, 10 Second News, and Drown, all evoked an enormous response from the audience.
Both nights ended with loud covers that allowed the band to "cut loose." Friday night ended with a furious Del-Vetts song called Last Time Around, and on Saturday night, they ended with an old Uncle Tupelo tune from "Anodyne" called Chickamauga.
Even though Son Volt is not the kind of band to smash their guitars and jump into the crowd, it is always exciting to see them because they rely solely on the quality of the music, which in itself is an extremely rare trait among rock musicians.
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