I live in Salford. I go to gigs. I write about the gigs. And other stuff...

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

American Music Club, Manchester Hop & Grape, 30th Jan 2005

So, American Music Club return after a 10 year haitus during which I completely lost interest in the works of Mark Eitzel after buying his debut solo effort, the utterly forgettable 60 Watt Silver Lining. It was a welcome relief that they split up in the first place after their awful final album San Francisco so I approached their resurrection with much trepidation. The new album, Love Songs for Patriots, however, was a revelation, easily their best work since Everclear and containing actual tunes like what they used to write before the Red Right Hand of the major labels steered them so disastrously off course in the early 90's.

To the gig. Support band The Amazing Pilots, from Ireland, were ok: some nice tunes but nothing to set them apart from the crowd. Their biggest cheer came when the lead singer got a call from his mate Ryan while the guitarist was sorting out problems between songs. "Hey, Ryan, how's it going?...I'm actually in the middle of a gig...yeah, like now" and so on.

AMC took the stage looking roughly 11 years older to a man since I last saw them about 11 years ago. Vudi is still stick thin and looks about 90 in contrast to Eitzel, whose waistline was wisely hidden for most of the gig by a cumbersome overcoat, and Dan Pearson whose middle age spread has merely served to increase his brooding presence behind his bass - think Christian Slater in 10 years time if he really lets himself go. New Keyboard player Marc Chapelle I recognise, days later, as being one of the extended Lambchop family. Not a bad thing.

The set was culled mainly from Patriots and the overrated Mercury. Why do so many people insist that this is their best album? It's got some good songs like "Johnny Mathis' Feet" and "I've Been A Mess", the latter of which they played tonight, but it doesn't come close to Engine, United Kingdom, California or Everclear. Those albums are packed with great tunes, great lyrics and great, spare, arrangements compared to the over-produced, over-written, under-melodious disappointment that is Mercury. I could apply this in triplicate to San Francisco but they wisely chose not to treat us with any choice cuts from that album. Anyway, rant over. They played as if they'd never been away, the new stuff from Patriots coming across particularly well, especially "Myopic Books" and the mesmerising "Patriot's Heart". Of the old stuff "Why Won't You Stay" transported us back to the days when they could do no wrong, "Outside This Bar" rocked in all the right places and "Western Sky" was a predictable, but welcome, encore. It's what they didn't play that disappointed: "Nightwatchman" and "Blue And Gray Shirt" (their finest moment in my opinion) had been dusted down on previous dates on this tour but not tonight, and, c'mon guys, "The Hula Maiden"? Is it too much to ask? Er, well, I didn't ask, and I didn't get. And they finished about 20 minutes short of the 10:30 curfew, plenty of time to raid the back catalogue further.


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