Howie Day | 05.01.09

live_howie-day_sm.jpgWith a solid 90-minute show drawing heavily from his well-loved first two releases, Australia and Stop All the World Now, there wasn’t a moment I didn’t love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blueberry Hill Duck Room, St. Louis

live_howie-day.jpgIllness forced Howie Day to reschedule his March stop in St. Louis, the added time only serving to heighten anticipation. This was to be an understated tour, which meant Day wasn’t yet supporting a new album (an EP was to drop the following via iTunes, with a full length following in late August); as such, venues were intimate and promotion was nonexistent. Not surprisingly, the show was sold out well in advance of the original date.

This was my first time seeing Day in concert. I knew he was traveling solo; I also knew he utilized a lot of looping to fill out his sound. And with a solid 90-minute show drawing heavily from his well-loved first two releases, Australia and Stop All the World Now, there wasn’t a moment I didn’t love.

Taking the stage, Day kicked off the set with the pristine "Sorry So Sorry," a sure sign of things to come. The song was accented by echoes, drumbeats (made by banging on the wood of his acoustic guitar), and looping — lots of it. As the song built to a crescendo before fading, "I swear I didn’t know" was repeated to dramatic effect.

"Ghost" began with looping, as Day layered multiple guitar lines (including a bass sound via his acoustic guitar, achieved by the flick of a switch), drumbeats and electronic programming; this one focused on the Star Trek-ian line, "In the future people will be sent to distant lands with beams of light."

"She Says" was delivered straight, no looping, and found the crowd singing every word. Day’s vocal delivery was pretty much what’s on the record; not a knock at all, as it certainly facilitated audience participation.

"Perfect Time of Day" found Day occasionally belting out and holding a note, a reminder that he’s got a killer voice on top of those mad songwriting and looping skills.

"Morning After" boasted very sharp-edged guitar strums. At the end, Day drifted into U2’s "One" before orchestrating the crowd’s cheers. Another song met with extensive applause was "Collide," the big single from his second album. Something approximating anguish crossed his face as he sang, "I’m close behind"; the glimpse of emotion was rare but appreciated.

As hinted by his Live From… EP, he played "Don’t Dream It’s Over." I never liked that cover; his own music’s good enough, and this rendition seems a least-common-denominator offering. Still, it was just one song, which I can more overlook.

A new song, "No Longer What You Require," was described by Day as "a real Scotch and razorblade song; you might want to have a glass." Another new one, "Bunnies," led him to proclaim, "I just like it that I have a song called ‘Bunnies.’" From the new EP, he gave us "Be There Be There." During the intro, he segued into a bit of "She Says," admitting, "It kind of sounds like that one, doesn’t it?" In other words, it was classic Howie Day.

A couple of times Day made slight attempts at humor; pretending to be an audience member describing the show to a friend, he offered, "He was good, but he wasn’t funny at all." Later, in introducing a song from his second album, he said, "This next song is from the Stop All the World album, which came out in 1986. I was five." A request for Toto’s "Africa" was met with, "I don’t even remember how to play that one. I haven’t played it since 1973." During the encore, Day interrupted a cover of Elton John’s "Daniel" by saying, "Next time I come to St. Louis we’ll do Elton John cover night," then "I’m not sure how I feel about how loud you cheered that."

The stage offered minimal lighting, Day more often illuminated by the flash of a camera then he was by the can lights. Still, with the solo performer taking up a small amount of real estate, it seemed perfectly appropriate.

My only complaint is that Day didn’t make much of an effort to connect with the audience. He looked around the room as he sang, but he didn’t seem to be allowing audience members in. Good thing he’s so freaking good we didn’t care. | Laura Hamlett

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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