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I have to admit that I was half loaded before I even arrived at the El Mocambo to see A.A. Bondy on Thursday night, December 3. I had dinner earlier that evening with the CEO from an organization with which I do volunteer work, and the wine was following freely. Weeee! So the first thing I do when I walk into the El Mo is tell Bondy's merch dude that he is selling his CDs too cheaply ($10 CND) and he should be selling them for way more. Who the fuck am I to lecture rock stars, especially when they are having an album fire sale? So, after getting more wine and feeling like an idiot, I went back and bought three CDs (two from Bondy, one from opener Willy Mason).
I was slightly surprised by the stage setup given the review that I had read from a show the previous week (see below). Bondy was preforming solo - no backing band in sight. Bondy later noted that one of his band mates had to go home for an emergency. But being solo didn't deter his performance, nor the fan's enthusiasm. Bondy repeatedly noted how he couldn't believe how many people showed up for his gig, and how he appreciated the crowd's energy since he had been on the road over 60 days, and this was turning out to be one of his best shows.
In addition to playing wonderful, dark folk music, which included pretty much everything off of his two solo albums, plus Hank Williams Sr. and Tom Waits covers, Bondy also entertained the crowd with hysterical stage banter. He cracked everyone up with tales of crossing the US/Canada border, "No we don't have any marijuana, we got really fucking high last night. Fucking morons."
I was completely impressed with how knowledgeable the crowd was. Most of them sang along to the tracks from 2007's American Hearts. And I had to laugh when Bondy asked the crowd if anyone had a light or medium guitar pick, and a half dozen young twenty-something boys dug into their pockets and pulled one out. Ha! I need to start carrying guitar picks to shows. Usually the rock stars just ask for smokes. Which Bondy also did.
Bondy continues his tour this week in the northeast US. Check him out, and make sure to buy a CD.
Buy: When the Devil's Loose (2009)
Buy: American Hearts (2007)
Willy Mason opened the show. I don't really know anything about him other than he has a spectacular voice and he is from Massachusetts. I purchased the album Where Humans Eat because the merch dude told me to. I like it. Check him out.
Buy: Where the Humans Eat (2004)
For comparison sake, one of my buddies posted this brilliant review of Bondy's show on the AltCountryTab.ca forum:
A.A. Bondy - Friday, November 27 - Omaha, NE
Armed with a guitar and a harmonica, A.A. Bondy put on an incredible show last night in the front room of the Slowdown. Normally a solo acoustic performer, this time around he had two other musicians to make it a three-piece unit. One man played both bass and keyboards while the other switched between drums and pedal steel. Scott Bondy was in a great mood Friday night as his Alabama Crimson Tide had just won a close game over Auburn to remain undefeated. He also gave a shout out to his bitter rivals the Florida Gators by exclaiming, "Fuck Tim Teabow!" His good nature carried through to his songs several of which were from his new album When the Devil's Loose. Songs such as "I Can See The Pines Are Dancing", took on a whole new life in a live setting. Instead of doing faithful album versions, he allowed the songs to take a new direction and personality. Many of the numbers evolved into a slow-building frenzy of noise and feedback as Bondy shook his hollow bodied Guild guitar to and fro creating a controlled chaos to the delight of the crowd. Between songs his onstage banter continued as he shared of his hatred for the Twilight vampire movies and his fondness for mushrooms of all things. I don't think he was talking about shiitakes. None of this fun took away from the seriousness and sincerity of his melancholy songs which he played with the demeanor of a broken man and often leaving the crowd in stunned silence. After the band finished their set Scott came back for an encore and played one of the stand-out songs from his debut album "American Hearts" called "Black Rain, Black Rain". It wasn't raining this beautiful and mild autumn evening in Omaha but had he wanted to, Bondy and his songs could have coaxed the sky to open up and cry.