Avett Brothers & Old Crow Medicine Show - TD Gardens Boston Mass - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Avett Brothers & Old Crow Medicine Show - TD Gardens Boston Mass

by Hiro Master Rating:8 Release Date:2012-07-01

It is Boston Massachusetts, on a bitterly cold Saturday night but there’s a huge crowd in the TD Garden, home of the Celtics and the Bruins, who are determined to turn this cavernous ice hockey stadium into a big alt-country hoedown. The bands tasked with delivering this outcome are two of America’s most venerated live acts – Old Crow Medicine Show and the Avett Brothers. They succeed with room to spare.

The former open the show like a 'newgrass' version of The Pogues, and the 14,000 punters in the TD Arena lap it up.  They managed to turn this huge space into an intimate Nashville Club and deliver a set with enough energy on stage to light their own rig. In particular, Keith Secor, their charismatic frontman and ace fiddler, appeared everywhere, leading the charge through standards like ‘Mary’s Kitchen’ and ‘Alabama High Test’.

That said, no band member slacks on the job, and collectively they are all masters of their trade. The songs are belted out with abandon but the subtleties are not lost. A stunning ‘Wagon Wheel’ follows a rendition of Woody Guthrie’s alternative national anthem, ‘This Land is Your Land’, where the crowd now every word. They ice the cake with a final cover of Tom Petty’s ‘American Girl’, which the great man himself would struggle to better.

Last time the Avett’s appeared in Boston it was to headline a mere 5,000 seat theatre. The brothers from Concord North Carolina have relentlessly worked the live circuit and they have a following in the US which is both huge and fanatical. Following a set of veterans like OCMS would daunt some bands, but the Brothers took it in their stride.

Opening with their recent single, ‘Another is Waiting’, they proceed to mix up the set with a range of ballads, standards and outright rockers. The complex mix of ‘Pretty Girl from Chile’ oozes class, while a raucous ‘Laundry Room’ brings the house down. The Avetts have a considerable discography behind them and as such they considerably vary their sets from night to night. They range wide and free this evening, not least with the introduction of an almost heavy metal version of ‘Paul Newman Vs the Demons’. They nail the superb big piano ballad ‘I and Love and You’ and let loose a storming cover of John Denver’s ‘Thank God I’m a Country Boy’, where they were joined on stage by Keith Secor.

The big highlights come in the form of a poignant ‘Murder in the City’, sung solo by Scott Avett, and a brilliant ‘Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise’. The band itself is a whirling spectacle, with Bob Crawford and Joe Kwon trading bass riffs and drummer Mike Marsh providing good percussive order.

It was inevitable that Old Crow Medicine Show would join them for the encore. A boisterous version of the old standard ‘Will the Circle be Unbroken’ is finally followed by the sweetness of the old Spaniels’ doo-wop hit ‘Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight’, with Seth Avett ably adding the deep bass voice backdrop.

As a never-ending US winter again covers Boston streets with snow and freezes the Charles River, this concert aimed to please a big audience. In this sense, the sheer warmth and verve of these two bands is the perfect antidote to the big chill and, as we leave the venue, any punter with good sense will tip a wink to the mighty forces and give thanks for a truly memorable evening.

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