Saturday, March 13, 2010

Toad the Wet Sprocket impresses in show at The Galaxy

Although Toad the Wet Sprocket hasn't released an album of new material since 1997's outstanding Coil, the quartet still performs a few dates every year to the delight of the band's enduring fan base.
On Friday night, the outfit proved that there are few acts better to revisit the past without being buried by it. While the majority of songs in the band's 21-song set came from TTWS's trio of best-known '90s releases (Fear, Dulcinea and the aforementioned Coil), the group offered up some rare music from its earliest days with a shimmering "Way Away" from the band's 1989 debut Bread and Circus the uptempo pop-rocker "P.S." (unreleased until 1999 when it was included on a retrospective) and the evolving ballad-to-rocker "Torn" from 1990's Pale.
Although there was a looseness to the set (notably singer-guitarists Glen Phillips and Todd Nichols having to frequently tune their own guitars), Toad continues to use the power of its songbook and its ability to perform those songs with precision to please audiences like the large one that filled the Galaxy on Friday.
Phillips' voice continues to marvel, whether singing the haunting lines of "Something's Always Wrong" or fiery folk rock of "Fall Down," and Nichols' guitar work was displayed in all ways subtle ("Crowing") and straightforward ("Brother") over the course of 90 minutes. And the use of spot-on two- and three-part harmonies added power to many of the songs, especially on the country-folk of "Windmills."
The set list included all the band's best-known hits ("All I Want," "Whatever I Fear," "Good Intentions" and the night-ending "Walk on the Ocean"), but was clearly lifted with the inclusion of Toad's line-up (including original members Randy Guss on drums and Dean Dinning on bass and backing vocals) backing Phillips as he sang his solo material (including a wonderful "Everything But You" from his album Mr. Lemons).
As time marches on, these Toad outings become more precious. And as Phillips sang so movingly as the concert moved to its inevitable conclusion: "And somebody told me that this is the place / where everything's better, everything's safe."

Area band Whalen opened the show with a solid mix of country-styled rock in the tradition of the Eagles and Poco. The highlight of the band's set were the catchy "Better All the Time" and "Live Like a Daydream."

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