We caught M. Ward
with opener Lee Ranaldo Band
(and another very special guest) at Webster Hall last Friday night. From the beginning it was clear that this was one of the best shows of the year. Every last detail, from Lee Ranaldo's godly open tuning guitar solos, to M. Ward's chilling solo songs, even the set design
made the show beyond awesome.
As Lee Ranaldo came onstage, Webster Hall was already filling up with fans of the immensely influential guitarist. He tore through some of the tracks on his new album Between the Times and Tides
, including the set highlight "Off The Wall." He gave a shout out to the Talking Heads as being one of the biggest reasons that he came to New York City (and started Sonic Youth n.b.d.) then dove into a fuzzed out rendition of "Thank You For Sending Me An Angel." Seeing Lee Ranaldo live proved to me again that the man has more than enough enough charisma and talent carry a band on his own, rather than just add to another.
As I poked my head over the edge of the stage to see the set list, I was surprised to see how much of the 2006 masterpiece Post-War
was included. When M. Ward and his band of four brilliant backing musicians played through each of the songs, I could see why they were still included. "Chinese Translation," "Poison Cup," "To Go Home," and, hell, pretty much every other song they played was a combination of beauty, Rock, and vintage Americana. In the middle of M. Ward's set, he made the wise move to take the stage by himself to play a couple of numbers. His hearty voice and serious guitar chops carried the mini-set perfectly, with every single audience member watching in silent awe.
A Wasteland Companion
cuts like "Primitive Girl" and "I Get Ideas" got the crowd cheering and moving just as much as his older material. Rachel Cox joined in on "I Get Ideas" and gave a boost on harmonies. A small, but awesome detail to the night was the back lit projections of rural landscapes and big skies through windows hung at the back of the stage. As the band played, the digital sun slowly set and rose again, making it seem like the band had played all night. And with the 24 song set, they might as well have. Toward the end of the night, into the encore, who else but everyone's favorite pal and Monsters of Folk band mate Conor Oberst came out to sing the last number, "Vincent O' Brien." It was a surprising, and fitting end to the night.
M. Ward, May 11, 2012
01. Post War
02. For Beginners
03. Poison Cup
04. Chinese Translation
06. Paul's Song
07. Watch The Show
08. Fuel For Fire/Pure Joy
09. You Still Believe in Me/100 Million Years
10. I'll Be Yr Bird
11. Clean Slate
13. Magic Trick
14. Me and My Shadow
15. Primitive Girl
17. John Fahey/Fisher of Men
18. Rave On
19. I Get Ideas
20. Never Had Nobody Like You
21. To Go Home (by Daniel Johnston)
22. Such A Night (by Lincoln Chase, Elvis Presley)
23. Roll Over Beethoven (by Chuck Berry)
24. Vincent O' Brien (w/ Conor Oberst)