Note: I am seeing Mark Olson & Gary Louris in concert tonight, and to get ready for the show I went back and re-read a killer review that my buddy Jan wrote after seeing them in Oslo, Norway, on Dec. 6, 2008. Since Jan rules, he gave me permission to repost it here. Enjoy!
Mark Olson & Gary Louris, John Dee, Oslo, December 6, 2008
I just got back from Oslo and a terrific concert at the John Dee! My brother Knut, our friend Dag and I drove in yesterday. Spinning Ready For The Flood most of the way. Dag got Knut and I into The Jayhawks back in 1999. He gave us Hollywood Town Hall, Tomorrow The Green Grass and Blue Earth. He got us into Joe Henry and Olson's Creekdippers stuff, and much, much more. Getting the chance to see Mark Olson and Gary Louris live with Dag is a dream come true. He is a true fan, and the nicest guy ever!
We got there early, I always try to be the first one in the door. So I can get a beer, and hang out in front of the stage. The show was sold out, and I talked to a bunch of nice people who was just as anxious as us for the show to start. The warm up act was good, Ingunn Ringvold aka Sailorine the new drummer chick who has toured with Mark since Salvation Blues played six songs or so, the highlight was a nice cover of the Creekdippers tune "Big Ol' Sign."
After Sailorine, Mark came out and tune up his guitar, then left. Gary came out wearing his typical sunglasses, black shirt and jeans and some killer looking cowboy boots, he tuned up and left too. After ten minutes they got back on stage and the crowd went apeshit! Man, we're talking a Jayhawks loving crowd here!
I was standing right in front of the stage, looking up at both Mark and Gary the whole time. They kicked off the set with "Pray For Me" followed by "Bicycle" (could be the best Louris song ever!!!), a glorious rendition of "Nothing Left To Borrowed" followed, the crowd sang along all the way. Then they did "Bloody Hands" from "Ready For The Flood", Gary introduced it and said, "This is a song we used to play back in Minnesota in the early days." Then came "Two Hearts," a goose bump moment for me. The harmonies sent shivers down my spine. Just amazing! Mark was sweating up a storm under the hot spot lights. Hell, he used to live in Joshua Tree?
Anyway, while he was asking for a towel to soak up some sweat Gary told us that they were going to play the first song they wrote when they got back together again. The song turned out to be "Say You'll Be Mine" from Olson's December's Child. I thought to myself, "fucking A!" and started singing along. Mark noticed me and when the line "dipped my honeycomb in a coffee can" came up, he looked me straight in the eyes, mounted the words along with me, grinned like a motherfucker, nodded at me and said, "That's right!" The guys next to me cheered and people applauded. It was just a little moment, but for me it was really special. I was singing that song in my room an hour or so before we drove to Oslo.
Mark and Gary played at least 25 songs. "Blue," "Doves and Stones," "Waiting for The Sun," "See Him on the Street," "Over My Shoulder," "Two Angels," "Clouds," "Settled Down Like Rain," "Sister Cry," "Saturday Morning on Sunday Street," "When The Wind Comes Up,".... "Bad Time" was an unlikely highlight for me, I like the song, but on the other hand I've never cared THAT much for it either. The live version kicked so much ass! Gary is one hell of a singer! The crowd swayed together and sang along. Gary dedicated "Chamberlain S.D" to anybody there from South Dakota. Gary played some kickass harmonica solos, and Mark looked like he was having a blast too.
After the show Mark and Gary signed records. We bought copies of their new tour EP, The Bicycle Sessions a 6 track EP featuring songs from Ready for the Flood recorded in Amsterdam with just Mark and Gary singing and playing. They only had 100 copies made. I'd brought my copy of My Own Jo Ellen and Mark signed it, and he thanked me for singing along. I thanked him for a great show and shook his hand. Gary signed the tour CD, and I said that I didn't bring my copy of Vagabonds because I thought he was going to sell it there, he said he'd sign it for me the next time, I thanked him for the show, and the up close two hour guitar lesson. He laughed, shook my hand and thanked me for coming out. Knut and Dag also shook hands and got their records signed. The four hour drive back home was spent marveling over what we'd witnessed. This is probably the best show I've ever been to. I gained a ton of respect for Gary Louris, and my love for Mark is even stronger (if that's possible). Mark has always been my favorite, but now they are pretty much equal in my book.
If you get a chance, go see them! Buy Ready For The Flood(released in North American on Jan. 27, '09), buy Vagabonds(2008), buy The Salvation Blues(2007).... dig out those old Jayhawks records. This is timeless music with heart and soul that I'll never get tired of. God bless Mark and Gary! Thanks for listening.
Mark Olson & Gary Louris - Bicycle.mp3
From: The Bicycle Sessions (2008 European Tour Limited Edition EP)
The Jayhawks - Waiting for the Sun.mp3
Buy: Hollywood Town Hall (1992, reissued 2006, out of stock at Amazon)
The Jayhawks - Blue.mp3
Buy: Tomorrow the Green Grass (1995, reissued 2002)