The Jayhawks + The Thorns= a night of sunny music
House of Blues, Anaheim, Cal., July 26, 2003
By Dan MacIntosh
ANAHEIM, CA - The Jayhawks may have called its latest album "Rainy Day Music," but its liquid-y sounds faired just as well in Southern California's summer heat. As if magically, Gary Louris' emotive voice - when matched with his jangle-y guitar work - creates a kind of joyous all-weather music.
The three Jayhawks (along with extra guitarist Steve McCarthy), ended their national tour this night by placing much confidence in songs from its fine new album. Such pride was exemplified by its selection of "Tailspin" as one of the show's encores, which found it on a pedestal right alongside an old favorite like "Blue." The group also performed "Stumbling Through the Dark," "Save It for a Rainy Day," "Eyes of Sarah Jane," "For All The Right Reasons" and "Tampa to Tulsa" (featuring drummer Tim O'Reagan on lead vocals) from the new project.
The band didn't neglect old favorites, though, as its set list also included "I'd Run Away" (from "Tomorrow The Green Grass") and "Take Me With You (When Your Go)" (from "Hollywood Town Hall"). Louris even strapped on a red and white Rickenbacker to cover Michael Nesmith's "Different Drum" at one point.
The group, which came through town as an acoustic trio the last time around, greatly benefited from Steve McCarthy's instrumental prowess this night. His countrified pedal steel and electric guitar leads nicely complimented Louris' Byrds-y rockisms.
The vocally harmonious Thorns preceded The Jayhawks with a collection of songs that ranged from the folk-rock of "Think It Over," to "Long, Sweet Summer Night," which sounds to Matthew Sweet (according to fellow Thorn Shawn Mullins) like something off of the "Grease" soundtrack. Pete Droge rounds out this CSN-inspired trio, and also chipped in the majority of lead guitar lines.
Also, without even so much as an explanation, The Thorns, its backing band, and even its soundmen were dressed in all-white hazardous materials clean-up like jumpsuits, which made these guys look a little like a low-tech Devo at a SARS medical conference. Very strange.
This night of memorable melodies and fine singing all around, added up to one great big sunny delight.