Photos by Jon Solomon.
Widowers, Achille Lauro, Mothership and Hawks of Paradise. Thursday, April 24 Larimer Lounge
Better Than: LSD
Nearly a year ago, Widowers played its first gig with Achille Lauro and Mothership, so it was a no-brainer for the three like-minded bands to team up again to help celebrate the release of Widowers’ stellar new self-titled album.
But before those bands took the stage, Hawks of Paradise, lead by former Hawks and Doves frontman James Yardley, played its debut gig. Quite a few people, including a lot of local musicians, showed up early to catch the maiden voyage of a band that has apparently already created a bit of a buzz. The band’s MySpace page offered little insight into appropriate expectations, but I have to give the band kudos for having video clips of Jack Keroauc reading from On the Road and a scene from Two-Lane Blacktop, which starred James Taylor, the Beach Boys’ Dennis Wilson and the great Warren Oates. And when band kicked off an impressive set with a fuzzed-up cut steeped in the jingle-jangle of the Yardbirds, it was obvious the Hawks folks were fans of ‘60s reverb-drenched psych pop.
After opening its set with a few lazy atmospheric cuts, Mothership took the whole psych thing to a completely different dimension. Halfway through the set, the Mothership took off, man. Seriously. Thundering drums, thickly distorted guitars and pulsating bass all created this massive sonic concoction that pukes on anything Brian Jonestown ever did. OK, maybe that’s going out on a limb, but when the Mothership flies, it really fucking takes off.
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While Achille Lauro might not have had the sheer brute force Mothership displayed near the end of its set, the band still delivered a luminous set of intelligently crafted songs. With Luke Mossman, who also plays with Hello Kavita, occasionally feeding jazz guitar chord voicings into the mix, and Matt Close’s soaring vocals, Achille Lauro played songs that were at times ethereal, sprawling, engaging and could be soundtracks to dreams.
After the Achille Lauro’s dreamlike-smoke had cleared, Widowers frontman Mike Marchant announced that the band would be playing its new album from start to finish. The guys then launched into a buoyant rendition of the album’s opening cut “Shine a Light.” The main difference between the CD and the last night’s show was the lack of acoustic guitars, which help propel many of the cuts on the disc. But the Marchant and Davey Hart’s dual electric guitar attack more than made up for it, and gave the infectious tunes more of an edge. Also, having a vibraphonist on the gig added another tasty ingredient to the band’s already palatable songs. After playing every cut on the album, the five-piece closed an outstanding set with a rocking psych-pop excursion, which was an ideal way to round out a night where each of the bands borrowed a little something from late-‘60s psychedelia.
- Jon Solomon
Critic's Notebook Personal Bias: Whoever set up this bill should be given a medal. Random Detail: Widowers CD covers were hand-screened. By the Way: Widowers and Cat-A-Tac are playing Saturday, May 3 at the Bluebird Theater. See this show.