Greg Laswell | 07.30.10

with Cary Brothers & Harper Blynn
Old Rock House, St. Louis

The Greg Laswell/Cary Brothers/Harper Blynn show on July 30 at Old Rock House was, in two words, very entertaining. There was music, of course, and stories, and a general feel that the people on stage were having just as much fun as those in the audience. While neither Greg or Cary’s music is known for being upbeat—something they both commented on—there was no somberness to the show.
This was no doubt helped by the band that opened the show—Harper Blynn. A quartet from Brooklyn, their music is similar to that of Cary and Greg in that it’s lyrically strong, but different in that it lacks the melancholy that has become a bit of a trademark for the other two. Their songs are driven, upbeat rock that would be better at getting a room clapping than making anyone break down in tears. About half of the songs that Harper Blynn played were not on their debut CD—Loneliest Generation—but the crowd didn’t seem to care. Having seen them play before I had hoped they’d include their cover of Beyonce’s Halo, and I was not disappointed. The audience as a whole seemed to enjoy it, as well as the rest of their set.
I had seen Cary several years ago in Chicago, while he was touring to support his first album, Who You Are, and I knew he was a good musician and a good performer. This show only served to confirm that. However, he did comment on the less-depressing tone of the newer album, Under Control. He told the audience that people told him they loved the first album because it “depressed the hell out of them.” He’s hoping the new album doesn’t have quite that effect—and the live show certainly will help. The music isn’t as as melancholy to start with and Cary is both charming and affable on stage. One of the highlights of the set was Cary’s enthusiastic description of the video for the single, “Ghost Town,” which has both monsters and buildings on fire which, he told us earnestly, is exactly what he wanted, even if it had nothing to do with the song.
Greg played last, and he too dispelled any thought that his show would reflect any of the sadness on his album. He made a joke of it, asking the audience if they could imagine how that show would be. With a straight face, he mumbled a depressed sounding, “Hey, I’m going to play you some songs,” and then stared balefully into the audience for a good minute before everyone burst into laughter. There were stories during Greg’s set, as well as his cover of “Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” which is rather somber when compared to the original, but was preceded by a story told in such a conversational tone that it didn’t serve to bring the mood down. Greg interacted with the audience a lot over the course of his set, telling stories and changing the lyrics to Richard Marx songs. I had never seen him before but I would not hesitate in the slightest to see him again.
The only real downside to the show was the short set times. Even the Greg was on stage for no more than an hour, with no encore. It was a pretty amazing three hours, though, and I hope all of the musicians involved come back to St. Louis soon. | Teresa Montgomery


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