January 28, 2003
Click here for Mike's review of Graham Colton's self-titled album, and don't forget about Mike's interview with Graham!
When I first got to Peabody’s on a snowy and frigid Tuesday night, it looked like a darkened high school cafeteria. Yeah, I felt like the oldest guy in the place, save for the parents of local band Hudson Chase, who were the true opener to headlining singer/songwriter Graham Colton. In some ways, they sounded like a prototypical jam band, and at other times reminded me of the Barenaked Ladies, just looking to have some fun. They didn’t have the most memorable songs, but played and sang them with precision.
Graham Colton and his band took the stage and some of the modest-sized crowd moved in for a closer look. The opener was “Jessica,” also the first track off Colton’s self-titled independent release, and it was clear that months of touring have made this band as tight as a crab’s ass. After “Summer Starts” displayed more of this solid rock band, things got interesting. They started the third song but promptly stopped 20 seconds in due to a buzzing bass rig. Ever the professional, Colton asked the crowd how they would feel about an acoustic song while the technical difficulties were worked out, and he did a riveting version of “Matthew,” a bittersweet ballad he wrote at the age of 16 about the death of a friend.
While the equipment problem was never fully resolved, the band kept trying and alternated the songs between full band and Colton solo acoustic. When they played, the band reminded me of alt-rockers Tonic, but Colton had the strength of voice to stand well on his own. The song “This Time,” which was penned by his guitar player Turtle, sounded a lot like Edwin McCain or Jeffrey Gaines. Other standout tunes were “Save Me” and “Cellophane Girl” but it was Graham’s version of the 1970s Stephen Bishop hit “On and On” that just blew me away. Explaining that he learned the song as a young boy from his dad’s cover band, Colton both had the balls to play it AND added balls to the song itself.
Most folks in the industry will tell you that the music business is all about songs. And young songwriters like Graham Colton give hope to an ever-changing backdrop, while continuing to rock places like this with and without accompaniment.