Monday, November 22, 2010
Curt Smith delights crowd at McCabe's Guitar Shop
Photo cutline: From left, singer Curt Smith with "Psych" cast members Kirsten Nelson, James Roday and Timothy Omundson at McCabe's in Santa Monica on Nov. 19. Smith's forthcoming holiday single "This Is Christmas" will be featured on the Dec. 15 episode of "Psych."
Photo credit: Richard Glasband
Whenever I have previously seen an established artist play large sold-out venues and then get the chance to see them in an intimate setting where the vibe is decidedly more casual, it always seems surreal.
Such was the case when one half of Tears for Fears, Curt Smith, performed a full-length showcase at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica on Friday night, Nov. 19, 2010.
Fans began lining up several hours before the doors opened to get a seat up front, but even those who arrived just prior to showtime were rewarded with chairs that equal those within the first dozen rows at Verizon Wireless or Honda Center.
But it wasn't simply the intimacy of the famed guitar shop that made the show so unique. Smith himself used the opportunity to perform a number of artful covers of songs he admittedly wished he had penned, as well as hits from Tears For Fears and material from his burgeoning solo career.
The release of Smith's full-length solo effort Halfway Pleased in 2007 seemed to initiate a new direction for the artist, with songs tackling the complex relationships he has forged with family, friends and the world around him.
"Seven of Sundays," "Coming Out," "Aeroplane" and "Snow Hill" were among the introspective and memorable songs from that disc he performed over the course of his show at McCabe's.
Among his most recently-penned tracks unveiled was "Perfectly...Still," a song he noted that had only been performed live once. "We have yet to perform it successfully," he mused before playing a seemingly-perfect take. The song details how a man has a wonderful wife and children, but is tempted to throw it away for a romantic encounter in an exotic country far from home. As performed on Friday, complete with sparse layers and excellent harmonies from several members of his band recalling the sound of Zero 7, it was a powerful song that earned him some of the loudest cheers of the night.
Smith noted that he used rare solo shows like this to perform versions of favorite songs from other artists. This night, he opened the proceedings up with an emotive version of the Cars' "Drive," here delivered to the accompaniment of his lone guitar. Later in the night, backed by all three members of his excellent band, Smith delivered a one-two punch with an astonishing cover of Radiohead's "Fake Plastic Trees" and a reworking of Coldplay's "Yellow."
Both of those covers showcased Smith's unique tenor able to mine new emotions out of oft-heard Brit rock staples.
Smith also featured his far-reaching vocals with sparse, stripped down versions of favorites such as "Mad World" and "Everybody Wants to Rule the World."
The night ended in true big-time fashion with Smith noting that he had recently guest starred on an episode of the USA series "Psych" and invited several members of that series' cast on stage to perform with him. Actors James Roday, Timothy Omundson and Kirsten Nelson provided well-sung vocals on a gigantic version of "Shout" to the delight of the fans.
A wonderful performance from start to finish. And the performance was a strong reminder that Tears For Fears fans hope that outfit issues another album soon.