everything old is new again

Review: Railroad Earth at the Best Buy Theater, NYC, 3.9.13

March 10, 2013
Review: Railroad Earth at the Best Buy Theater, NYC, 3.9.13

What a difference a year makes. Last year, I wrote a review about Railroad Earth’s show at the Best Buy that was filled with some heavy criticism. The set-list was uninspired, and while there were some really great moments, on the whole, I was underwhelmed.

Flash forward a year to the same venue, last night. What a difference.

We met up with Bob, Aileen, Barbara and Johnny at Bob’s parents’ apartment (photo prior to this post snapped from its balcony) for a pre-party, and then jumped onto a jitney around 7 PM (sans Barbara and Johnny) and headed into the city where we met up with the usual suspects at the New York Beer Company. It was great seeing so many people I hadn’t seen in a long while, especially since Kim and I blew off the Stroudsburg shows over Thanksgiving. Around 8:30, we made our way over to the venue, just in time to miss Donna the Buffalo’s set. That was no real loss from where we stood, since neither of us really enjoy them.

Once we settled in on the main floor about forty feet back from the stage, we chatted with folks until the lights went down at 9:30. Skehan had the zouk strapped on, and Andy was headed to the pedal steel, which meant Black Elk Speaks was the opener. I know there are folks who don’t like the song, but I totally dig the electric sound. The segue into Spring-Heeled Jack was spot-on, and it was obvious the band was fired up.

By the time they hit the halfway mark of the first set, things were hopping. The Like a Buddha > Green Roofs (or 1/2 Jiggy) > Where Songs Begin was pretty killer, with some great jamming. It was clear to me that everyone on stage was bringing their A-game.

When the smoke cleared and they headed off to set-break, there were a lot of smiling faces in the crowd. I was impressed. Having been quite jaded for a while, I was really pleased to see the band stepping up and delivering some really excellent playing mixed with a great set-list.

The second set opened with The Forecast, and signaled some really deep jamming to come. They moved perfectly into the River Intro Jam (which is one of my favorite short instrumentals by them) and then bam! Mighty River opens, but with just Todd strumming on the guitar just like the summer tour of ’08 when the Black Swan singers were part of the band. Who walks out but Sheryl Renee and Charlie Kay to add some stirring gospel to the sound. I saw the extra mics added before the second set began, and figured it was people from Donna the Buffalo joining in.

But no, the crowd was in for a treat.

What a wonderful sound. The crowd was singing along and roaring with approval when the song ended. The great playing continued on through the set, with the newly rediscovered Flowers Between the Stones featuring Timmy on lead vocals and electric guitar included. Tara Nevins (washboard) and Jeb Puryear (electric guitar) from Donna the Buffalo joined a raucous Just So You Know that was a lot of fun. I just wish Todd would remember the Working on a Building bit of the song for once…

The set ended with what might be one of the best Birds of America I’ve ever heard. Really trancy, it was one of the highlights for me in a night of highlights. They segued into Stillwater Getaway to finish up around 12:30, and came back out for an encore of Bird in a House and then the glorious Peace on Earth with Sheryl and Charlie adding their gospel touch. They didn’t want to stop singing, which was fine by all of us.

And then the show was over, and off we ventured into the night. This was, by far, the best Railroad Earth show I’ve seen in at least the past year and a half or so. Maybe missing a bunch of shows helped in that area, but I do think the set-list and playing was top-notch last night.

Here’s the entire set-list:

March 9, 2013
Best Buy Theater
New York, New York

Support: Donna the Buffalo

Railroad Earth:

Set 1:

Black Elk Speaks –>
Spring-Heeled Jack
Cold Water
Came Up Smilin’
A Day on the Sand
Like a Buddha –>
1/2 Jiggy –>
Where Songs Begin

Set 2:

The Forecast –>
River Intro Jam –>
Mighty River (A)
Colorado
Flower Between the Stones
Gold Rush
Just So You Know (B)
Birds of America –>
Stillwater Getaway

Encores:

Bird in a House
Peace on Earth (A)

(A): with Sheryl Renee and
Charlie Kay on vocals

(B): with Tara Nevins on
washboard and Jeb Puryear
on electric guitar

2 Responses to Review: Railroad Earth at the Best Buy Theater, NYC, 3.9.13

  • thanks for the review! when i saw the set list it seemed to be glowing, esp. second set, but i don’t know that i’ve ever seen SHJ so early in the show before so that tells you something right there. all the arrows in the second set is what i really like to see.

  • Yeah, all the > make me warm and fuzzy, too. 🙂

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