EDWIN MCCAIN/JEFFREY GAINES/OVAL OPUS
THE ODEON, CLEVELAND
MARCH 20, 2003
Check out Mike's CD reviews of Edwin McCain's The Austin Sessions, and Jeffrey Gaines' latest Toward the Sun!
The Odeon is hands down the best concert venue in Cleveland, and even when the show is “unplugged,” the sound is amazing and gives you the feel of watching a show in your living room. Such was the case for this acoustic performance of some seasoned songwriters and others that are still maturing.
Oval Opus, a pop/rock band from Cincinnati, sent their singer Aaron Patrick and lead guitarist Josh Edmondson to do two dates in support of Edwin McCain and Jeffrey Gaines. They didn’t disappoint, playing acoustic versions of mostly songs from their latest release, Red Sky Recovery. Highlights were “Are You Okay?” and the harmonica-driven “Dixie Queen.”
Jeffrey Gaines is touring in support of his latest CD, Toward the Sun, and just as he probably writes these songs at home, he performed by himself. Though not exactly as cold as it’s been in recent weeks, it was somewhat of a surprise to see Gaines take the stage, hot lights and all, in a leather jacket and knit cap, but when he opened his mouth to sing it really didn’t matter what he was wearing. With a voice that lands somewhere between Edwin McCain himself and Lenny Kravitz, Gaines played a lot of new material including “Falling Apart,” as well as his classic cover of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes,” which drew obvious approval from the crowd. Another cool moment for the fans was when McCain came out to sing back-ups on “Right My Wrongs” from Gaines’ 1998 release, Galore.
Just before Edwin McCain took the stage, a female fan proposed to her boyfriend on stage. Yes, you heard me -- a woman proposed -- and the dude said “yes!” Gotta love living in the 21st century.
Touring in support of his latest, The Austin Sessions, McCain came out with a stage plot that works well for him -- three acoustic guitars and one horn. Not that he doesn’t rock with his full band, but an unplugged version of Edwin lets him and his smoky coffee-house voice tell stories and mesmerize like few of his peers. He told the stories of some of the songs, among them “Beautiful Life,” which was about pulling his tour bus up to a restaurant at 8:00 am, seeing a full parking lot and assuming the food must be good, only to realize it was an all-night strip club.
Other standout songs were “Ghost of Jackson Square,” “On This Mountain,” “Go Be Young” and the timeless “Solitude.” Of course, McCain had to mix in the crowd-pleasing hits “Could Not Ask for More” and “I’ll Be.” Playing a late set on a weeknight, the crowd still wanted more, and McCain brought it, with stunning versions of “Sorry to a Friend” and “Prayer to St. Peter,” the latter of which he dedicated to the troops at war in the Middle East.
There aren’t many singer/songwriters who can draw well on a cool spring weeknight in Cleveland, but McCain and Gaines did just that. And they not only held the audience in the palms of their hands, they spoon-fed them some great stories.