For me, the 1990s will forever be the decade about a handful of great bands who released strong and timeless material that has been largely overlooked by the world.
DADA, Altered State, the Cranberries and Toad the Wet Sprocket rank on the top of my list and the reason is obvious; excellent songs played with the perfect lineup of players.
On Saturday (August 19, 2006), I got to see the reunited Toad the Wet Sprocket when they made a highly-anticipated stop before a capacity crowd at the Galaxy Concert Theatre in Santa Ana.
Singer-guitarist Glen Phillips, guitarist-singer Todd Nichols, bassist Dean Dinning and drummer Randy Guss were truly firing on all sonic cylinders throughout the 22-song set, which kicked off at 9:30 p.m. and didn’t end until 11:10 p.m. I wish the band could have played all night.
Toad the Wet Sprocket – which played its first show on Sept. 3, 1986 – revisited material from throughout its small but decisive catalog, including audience favorites such as “Something’s Always Wrong” (which kicked off the 100-minute concert), “All I Want,” Crowing,” "Walk on the Ocean" and “Fly From Heaven."
The show was kind of split in half because Glen Phillips played a solo, 2-song acoustic set in the middle to showcase several recent songs. An affected “Easier” (off his “Winter Pays for Summer” disc) was especially strong, with Glen’s distinctive voice driving every line home.
It was also great to hear the ghost of Gram Parsons when the entire band played “Everything But You,” a country-styled song off his most recent disc, “Mr. Lemons.”
Toad the Wet Sprocket has always been a band able to fit comfortably into the folk rock category, but the cast artfully blends rock, pop, country and folk into a magic potion all its own.
For those who like a rock edge, “Hold Her Down” “Fall Down” and “Brother” (with Glen delivering some wah wah-anchored electric guitar work) delivered. For those who like the wistful and emotive songs, Todd sang lead vocals on a tender “Inside” and there were great readings of countrified tracks such as “Stupid,” “Nanci” and “Nightingale Song.”
And one song from 1997's tragically-overlooked “Coil” worked exceptionally well here; the confessional “Whatever I Fear” was among the night's highlights.
An aptly-placed “I Will Not Take These Things for Granted” closed the emotional show; it painfully clear the incredible night was coming to a close.
Come back soon guys, okay? We need you.
Toad the Wet Sprocket set list on Saturday, August 19, 2006:
Something’s Always Wrong
Whatever I Fear
Fly From Heaven
All I Want
Inside (Todd sang)
Hold Her Down
Come Back Down
GLEN ALONE WITH ACOUSTIC GUITAR
Back On My Feet (off "Abulum")
Easier (off “Winter Pays for Summer”)
ALL FOUR MEMBERS BACK ON STAGE TOGETHER
Everything But You (off “Mr. Lemons”)
Crazy Life (Todd sang)
Walk on the Ocean
I Will Not Take These Things for Granted