Thursday, June 9, 2011

"More of the Saddest Songs I know" - Robin Wilson acoustic and live

Beautiful Melodies telling you Terrible Things Vol. XII...or XIII...maybe XIV, who cares?

Sorry for skipping on New Tune Tuesday this week, it was mainly due to being too busy in the video and film world to take time to do so. Also, I was at the local Zia Records at around 11:00 the other night and did see some stuff to recommend: namely, Derek Trucks (the guy whose name should be in place of tools like John Mayer when people talk about the next generation of guitar greats) album with his wife Susan Tedeschi, and also the soundtrack to the South Park creators recent play, "The Book of Mormon." Brit pop darlings the Arctic Monkeys released a new album as well, and while it's pretty solid, I just have a hard time giving them any positive press after the concert I saw them give in 2007 at the Marquee. Don't believe me? Just ask Portemaus' own Manny Funkowitz, he was there with me. I still feel disrespected and ripped off by that show, anywhow...

So she fills up her sails with my wasted breath
And each one's more wasted than the other you can bet
On Allison Road

The Venue - Teakwoods Tavern Bar & Grill: Teakwoods really is just a bar and grill, but they got a nice little stage area and with the people who running being long-standing in the Tempe scene of the late 80's and early 90's, they bring in some good acts. They also have possibly best wings in town since the ORIGINAL Long Wong's Tempe closed. I've seen Dead Hot Workshop, Muddy Violets and, yes, Robin Wilson among others here. Wilson often does free acoustic gigs that are for fundraising on his Love, Hope and Strength cancer charity, and here in Phoenix it's usually performed at Teakwoods. Always a good time...
Wilson performing at an earlier gig at Teakwoods in early 2010 - pic courtesy Mark Ord

The Artist - Robin "Walkin, Talking Human Jukebox" Wilson: We walked in a bit late, as Wilson had already started on his go-to opening song for these shows, "Teenager in Love," a song the Blossoms were known to do a in a bit more raucous and drunken way in the late 80's at venues like Chuy's. If you've seen one acoustic show from the Gin Blossoms frontman, you know what to expect, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Wilson has a distinct, classic rock voice that while being infused with many's image, er, sound in their head of 90's rock, is perfectly suited for a wide variety of songs. He also has a penchant and soft spot for sad songs, his setlists may be the best definition for section of this site titled "beautiful melodies telling you terrible things," as he often proclaims during these sets that "these are the saddest songs I know" and "better get out your handkerchiefs for this one." He doesn't just go for musical melancholy though, his rather dry and sarcastic sense of humor is on hand in his in between song banter ("that's one of the truly classic and deepest lines in rock, right next to 'baby hit me one more time,'" "that was a special performance for those of you on hallucinogens") and he'll often pull out songs for smiles and laughs too. Whether it be "Cookie starts with C" or turning the Backstreet Boys "I Want it That Way" into a drunken campfire sing-a-long of sorts. Wilson, and the Blossoms in general, were heavily influenced by the jingle jangle pop rock sound of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and so Wilson often pulls out a Petty song or three. Tonight he started "Insider," but stopped as he decided it was too sad a song to play after "C is for Cookie," and he probably was right. He however did a wonderful performance of "the Waiting" (a song that, for me, came to a deeper and more personal meaning going through a long distance relationship) later on, and mentioned wanting to get a tattoo of the songs main hook. Buddy Holly, Cheap Trick, the Bee Gees and Oasis were among others found on his always eclectic set list. Wilson truly is a walking, talking jukebox and while there's songs you can expect him to play at most of these shows, he often comes up with some off the cuff.

There's a green shore in the distance,
Take it with you when you go away,
Can you tell me, what it's like there?
Feel the starlight in the day,
I'll be waiting, far away...My-y-y, my-y-y Polaris...

Of course, Wilson's voice on songs of his and his bandmates own have found themselves to be quite the radio favorites as well, and so it's not just a covers show. Wilson did "Hey, Jealousy" (RIP Doug Hopkins) early on, stating "better get this one out of the way early," as well as my own favorite Wilson penned tune, one of the saddest romantic songs there is, "Allison Road." Last year, the Gin Blossoms came out with a new record, and I was super disappointed when one of the best prospective songs for the album I had heard prior (from Wilson at a Teakwoods show nonetheless) didn't make it, "My Polaris." Luckily tonight Wilson busted it out again, and it's nice to hear the song in some way.

The preacher talked to me and he smiled,
Said, come and walk with me, come and walk one more mile.
Now for once in your life you're alone,
But you aint got a dime, there's no time for the phone.
I've just got to get a message to you, hold on, hold on.
One more hour and my life will be through, hold on, hold on.

After jokingly ending his first set by saying "I'm gonna go take a piss and then shake some hands and then I'll be back up in 15" Wilson was done with his first, 65 or so minute set. Sadly, due to the early rising schedule of my better half, threw a quick wave of thanks to Robin, paid the tab for our delicious wings and slipped out. It's disappointing to miss out on whatever we missed out for his second set (last time I missed a Robin set he did "Nothing at All," which, trust me, is kind of a big deal) but I was more than satisfied by what I got to see. If you wanna see a little free show, or listen in to one as you enjoy some food and maybe a cold beverage, you could do a whole lot worse than seeing an acoustic Wilson show. You could also do a lot worse than donating some cash to Love, Hope, Strength as I can tell you they're a class-act group.

Oh, the past is gone but something might be found to take its place...hey, jealousy...

Highlight of the Night & Overall Score: "Allison Road" and "My Polaris" were probably my highlights, though he always brings it on his Petty covers as well. A fun enjoyable couple hours were had by all: 3.75/5

Tuneful of Sugar: For those of you that need more than a review and pictures...
Allison Road - Robin Wilson Acoustic at Teakwoods by Hudson-Hawk

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