Aug 31, 2010 Concert Reviews
Posted by Adam
Everyone who performs live opens some amount of themselves up to the audience. With some it is a small glimpse with others there is a definite personal connection with all of those watching them. Tommy Womack takes the stage and precedes to take his heart out and place it on the stand alongside his harmonicas for everyone to see. It’s what makes every time you see him a special occasion no matter what the situation happens to be.
A couple of weeks ago I drove up to the Spruce Street Studios to experience one of those nights with Tommy and fifty or so like minded music fans.
Arriving literally five minutes before show time Tommy walked to the stage and did the world’s fastest soundcheck and was ready to perform. That warranted mentioning because a completely road drained, rushed, and probably underfed Womack was about to put on the one of the best shows I have ever seen.
Right off the bat, Tommy set the tone for the night with back to back unreleased songs (this would be the theme of the night). The first I had never heard and I think the name of it was “Play That Cheap Trick, Cheap Trick Play”. It falls right in line with all of his other very introspective and personal songs that he has been writing throughout his career.
The second song of the night was “Bye and Bye”, a track he had played the last time I saw him. Centering around an encounter with an ex-lover in a grocery store, this is one of those songs that allows me and I’m sure everyone else to connect with Tommy. It laments what could have been at the same time recognizing that things worked out for the best in a jaded, sarcastic way that only Womack can deliver in song. I think any of us who still live in the same town with people whom we have pasts reside have had these exact experiences and felt the same way as the protagonist in the song, telling her “Please scan your damn items, please shove them in the bag and get on with the rest of your life”
From there the very long first set went through many of the favorites from There, I Said It, the latest Daddy release, For a Second Time and all of his other releases. Highlights included two epics in “Alpha Male and the Canine Mystery Blood” and “The Replacements”. The latter a personal treat for me because I had never heard him do it live.
Two other moments really stood out for me in the first set. First he played “I Went to Heaven in a Dream Last Night” with just a harmonica and turned into a blend of beatnik and bluesman right before our eyes. The second was his reading from Cheese Chronicles his autobiographical book about his days in the band Government Cheese (more on them later).
After a very short set break Tommy took the stage again for what I thought would be a short second set. Boy was I wrong. The second half of the evening would end up being longer than the first.
Womack began tearing through the rest of There, I Said It (only neglecting to play two tracks from the album), Daddy’s debut release and more importantly a ton of new stuff. At one point it became obvious that this was one special night as Tommy started throwing out new song after new song. The standout to me was “Over the Hill” a song about he and his wife getting older together.
Somewhere in the second set, He played my favorite Government Cheese song, “C’mon Back To Bowling Green and Marry Me” with an added surprise thrown in at the end… “Fish Stick Day”. I was not around for the Cheese days but from what I have gathered this was a crowd favorite and it still gets a great response from the crowd as a much needed dose of nonsense. The Cheese songs have been finding their way into Tommy’s set lately in anticipation of the up-coming release of the Government Cheese box set.
This box set has been a project a few years in the making and it is obvious that it is close to Tommy’s heart. I for one, am very anxious to hear the results as it will contain all of their released material and a bunch of unreleased tracks. It should be hitting the shelves later this fall.
As the night began to wind down, Tommy busted out a few amusing covers in Helen Reddy’s “I am Woman” and Tom Waits’ “The Piano Has Been Drinking” (reworked as “The Guitar Has Been Drinking”). Also thrown in to the end of the show was the always fun “A Little Bit of Sex” complete with Gene Simmons Sexual Savior story.
Tommy walked off the stage to the expected chant of one more. Never one to let the crowd down he came back to the stage and delivered a three song encore the highlight of which was “A Songwriter’s Prayer” and left again to a rousing round of applause. He quickly turned around and gave us all one more song before the show ended for real.
From start to finish this was the best Tommy show I have seen to this date. He sounded better than ever, and seemed extremely comfortable with the crowd. He did a great job of mixing up the set list with new and old songs and the delivery was superb. Tommy never lets me down as a fan, but this was definitely a special night one that I was damn glad I took the night off work for. Look for the Government Cheese box set soon and if the songs he played that night were any indication an impending solo release that will rival There, I Said It, which is no small order because that is one of my favorite records of all time.
If for some reason you are reading this and don’t know Tommy’s music check out his website here. Also I took some videos and would love to say I will have them up soon, but if you have followed this site you know it will probably be awhile.
Tags: Tommy Womack