Sunday, April 29, 2012

Concert Review: Eric Hutchinson in Columbus, Ohio

It's been almost four years since I last saw Eric Hutchinson. His live shows are well known for being spectacularly amusing as well as genuinely good, and Friday night's show once again lived up to the hype. The A & R Music Bar is a little bit smaller than The Basement, where I saw him last time, but it was packed.

As soon as I heard about opening act Anya Marina, I knew I'd heard of her before, but I couldn't figure out where. The songs she played sounded cute and I assumed I must have heard one of her songs on Pandora. Like Hutchinson, Marina had a great rapport with the audience. There were some children in the front row that she talked to between almost every song.

Anya Marina

I don't have a lot to say about Marina's set because I wasn't especially impressed or unimpressed with it. It all sounded good, but being unfamiliar with the songs took most of the fun out of it. On her final number however, I did discover where I'd heard her before. As a closer, Marina played a cover of T.I.'s "Whatever You Like" that my college roommates listened to over and over again. Her cover makes the tune somewhat haunting and a little more catchy than it started out. I highly recommend it.

There was quite a lengthy wait between sets. I'm not sure what the complication was, but it seemed to take a while. Eric Hutchinson and his band finally took the stage and launched straight into "Best Days." Hutchinson engaged the crowd, asking them to sing along as much as possible.

They played a couple of songs from Sounds Like This, followed by "Not There Yet." The reggae beats in "Not There Yet" were used to lead into a lively and quick cover of The Beatles' "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da." After that, Hutchinson played "All Over Now" and "Outside Villanova" from Sounds Like This and then introduced "Breakdown More." I learned that "Breakdown More" was originally released on his first album, That Could've Gone Better, which is now out of print.

Another staple of Eric Hutchinson concerts is songs made up on the spot about the audience. Hutchinson created a song about the inconveniently located pillars in the venue that was not only musically sound, it was also quite funny. Next up was the lead single from Moving Up Living Down, "Watching You Watch Him." The crowd loved the energy-riddled sad song. The energy of "Watching You Watch Him" provided a stark contrast to the intensely emotional "Back To Where I Was," for which the rest of the band left the stage. Still solo, Hutchinson moved on to a frequent cover, "Stand By Me." 

The band returned for two more songs from the new album. They ended the set with "Food Chain" and "Okay, It's Alright With Me."

There was a very short wait before the encore, which started with a cover of Sublime's "Santeria" that really sounded like an Eric Hutchinson song. I was completely unfamiliar with the song and couldn't figure out why so much of the crowd knew it so well. They closed the show with "The Basement" and finally Hutchinson's biggest hit "Rock & Roll."

Eric Hutchinson still puts on one of the best shows you can go to see. I can't help feeling there was a little less energy to this one than the first of his shows I went to, but it was still incredibly good.

Special thanks to my brother for snagging a set-list, which made it much easier to complete this review.

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