Last night at Red Rocks, when Governor John Hickenlooper introduced the Avett Brothers -- which he called the one of best bands in the world -- he said, "If you look back into the history of music, there's something special about people who are born with multiple talents and from childhood get to sing together as brothers. I'm talking about the Everly Brothers. I'm talking about the Wilson brothers of the Beach Boys. And we're going to hear another band that's every bit as good."
That's a tall order, putting the Avett Brothers in the same company as the Everly Brothers and the Beach Boys. But Hickenlooper might have a point. Siblings seem to have inherent thing when playing together that other people don't have, a sort of intuition that only comes from sharing the same blood. Whatever it is, Scott and Seth Avett have it, as Saturday's show at Red Rocks proved.
For just under two hours, the Avetts pulled material from pretty much every one of their recordings, showing the full spectrum of what the band is capable of. From heartbreaking ballads to foot-stomping barn burners and everything in between, the brothers traded off lead vocal duties and offered up some remarkable harmonies.
Opening with a pair of tunes from their latest effort, the Rick Rubin-produced I and Love and You, the Avetts came out full of enthusiasm on "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise" and "Tin Man." While "Go to Sleep" started off somewhat slow, it didn't take long before most of the guys in the band were jumping up and down. As with quite a few songs over the night, a lot of the folks in the sold-out Red Rocks crowd sang along.
"Go to Sleep" was just one of the many of the tunes where it felt like the Avetts had the capacity crowd (close to 9,500 people) in the palms of their hands. The band's exuberance for the first half hour or so definitely seemed to rub off on the audience through a buoyant take on "January Wedding," and two back-to-back tunes from 2007's Emotionalism -- "Shame" and "Paranoia in B-Flat."
Before Scott and Seth Avett and bassist Bob Crawford crowded around one microphone to do a moving take on John Denver's "Back Home Again," one of the brothers said they grew up listening to Denver. (Before Hickenlooper introduced the band, AEG's president Chuck Morris inducted Denver into the Red Rocks Hall of Fame and said that the singer-songwriter was a big inspiration to the Avett Brothers.)
Set List and more photos below.
Shifting gears big time, the band then injected some punk fervor into the rollicking "The Fall," one of the more rocking cuts of the night, and then went into the energetic "Kick Drum Heart." While the Avett Brothers sound wonderful together when they do harmonies, they each sound quite good on their own as well, as evidenced by the brothers' back to back solo ballads -- "Murder in the City" and "Never Been Alive" -- as well as
Scott's Seth's take on "In the Curve."
After the jubilant and rocking "Pretty Girl From Cedar Lane" and "Talk On Indolence," the Avetts closed out the set with a superb takes on "I and Love and You" and "Will You Return?" before coming back for a brief encore that included Doc Watson's "Blue Ridge Mountain Blues" and "Laundry Room."
Personal Bias: I saw the Avetts for the first time at Red Rocks during the Monolith Festival in 2008, and after hearing "Shame," which might have been the first song of the afternoon, I was hooked. These guys were even more compelling three years later. Random Detail: Unfortunately the wind blew the sound around a bit, muffling things at times. By The Way: Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, who had just opened for Kenny Chesney the night before, delivered a decent set, running through "Stop the Bus," which Potter said they wrote when their bus broke down near Buffalo Bill's Grave and "Ooh La La."
The Avett Brothers Red Rocks Amphitheatre - Morrison, CO 07.09.11
Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise Tin Man Go to Sleep Colorshow January Wedding Shame Paranoia in B-Flat Major Back Home Again The Fall Kick Drum Heart Murder In the City Never Been Alive And it Spread I Killed Sally's Lover Distraction #74 The Prettiest Thing In the Curve Once and Future Carpenter Pretty Girl from Cedar Lane Talk On Indolence I and Love and You Will You Return?
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Blue Ridge Mountains Blues Laundry Room