July 24, 2001
here for a review of Pete Yorn's
latest CD, musicforthemorningafter
The old adage, "It's quality, not quantity," never meant more to me than it did at this show. Pete Yorn, soaking in the success of his current MTV2 Tour of America's most famous small clubs, swung through Columbus, OH and won over a sweaty, packed house at Little Brother's on the Ohio State campus. About 400 summer-clad, perspiring, mostly adolescent college co-eds filled L.B.'s, knowing word-for-word lyrics to every song from Yorn's new disc,
Pete and his band strolled onto the small, stripped-down stage just before 10:30pm, much to the shrieking appreciation of a female-heavy crowd! For a couple of minutes, it appeared they were having trouble getting any sound out of the electric piano…that's when Pete slung his guitar over his shoulder, plugged in, and began quietly strumming the intro to Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing In The Dark." The young crowd seemed puzzled for a moment, hoping that this obscure intro would evolve into one of the album tracks they had studied up on for the past two months in preparation for this show. As Yorn worked his way slowly (and without the rest of the band) to the chorus, the crowd began to recognize and enthusiastically join in. "You can't start a fire, you can't start a fire without a spark. This gun's for hire, even if you're just dancin' in the dark"
At that point, the crowd erupted with approval, the technical difficulties were fixed, the band plugged in, and the brief 1˝-minute intro seemed so perfectly borrowed from The Boss, as if it were scripted. And without so much as a "hello," the five-piece ensemble tore into "Murray," a brilliant opener. There was surprisingly no need to warm up, tweek, or make any further adjustments to this band's sound. From the outset they were tight, polished and crystal clear. I didn't expect much in the way of drawn-out solos, bullshit unknown filler material, or between-song banter from Pete Yorn…and I was right! This set would be as lean and mean as any I had ever witnessed. After opening with a fantastic run of "Murray," "Strange Condition" and "Black," Yorn and the boys carried on a perfect set of 60 minutes worth of the new record, two unknown encores, and another cover tune which worked like a charm.
It was the third song of the night, "Black," when I realized the kind of rock and roll outlaw Mr. Yorn really is. While singing the second verse, "KISS...aaww, they were the ones," he saluted the screaming crowd with a Gene Simmons-esque three-finger rock/peace sign…and even the 17 year olds loved it. I think my personal favorite version of the night was near the end when he introduced "Closet." This is a late, hidden track on the record that I absolutely love, and just as he did with all other versions throughout the set, Pete cranked this one up to double tempo and let the Stratocaster rip! Never fails how much pure live rock can come out of a fairly laid back CD when you're standing 40 feet from a stage.
The brief one-hour set started winding down as they drove right into The Smith's "Panic" (also familiarized when the sold-out crowd chimed in, "Hang the DJ, hang the DJ, hang the DJ…Hang the DJ…"). Before I even had time to recount which album tracks had been played and which hadn't thus far, "Panic" gave way to "Life on a Chain." The house roared at the intro and settled in to sing every last word of the current radio single -- what a great song!
As Pete and his band bid farewell and thanks to the adorning audience, I said, "One hour…that's it!" One hour -- it's all he needed! We paid $10 and got the cleanest, leanest, most beautiful one hour of club-sized rock and roll you could ever hope to see. It's no surprise that he's selling out every night of this tour, in the country's most notable clubs: 9:30 Club in D.C., Stone Pony in Asbury Park, and Smith's Olde Bar in Atlanta. Pete Yorn may not turn out to be the next great singer/songwriter in our generation…but he was on this night!