Mike Gordon 11/06/10

Troubadour – West Hollywood, CA

Words/Photos by Reverend Justito/concertconfessions.com

As some of you may recall, I wrote a rather nasty open letter to Phish a few months back.  It’s not easy being a fan of the band in the Pacific Time Zone and I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that my coast has been largely overlooked.  So when news broke that Phish bassist Mike Gordon would kick off his own fall tour at the tiny Troubadour in West Hollywood, CA I made sure to get my tickets right away.  If this was the only live appearance by a member of Phish in Los Angeles County for 2010, then there was no way I was going to miss it.

It’s a good thing I did get those tickets right away as the show sold out moments after going on sale.  All up and down Santa Monica Blvd fans did their best to find an extra, however from what I could tell there were none to be had.  My goal was to get into the venue early and grab the front row of the balcony; however after some box office confusion I ended up in what would be the second row of the main GA floor.  This was a blessing in disguise, as I realized during the nights first song “Sound” that I was less than three feet away from the man often referred to as Cactus.

Supporting his most recent release Moss, the night featured a few songs from the new record as well as classic Gordo cuts and a plethora of covers.  Gordon and guitarist Scott Murawski synchronized jumping during “Dig Further Down” got the crowd pumped up early on.  In fact, I was shocked at how energetic the usually reserved Gordon was.  One Cactus outburst came during the Beatles cover “She Said, She Said.”  With an unusual device that I can only describe as a drum machine meets a bomb detonation device, Gordon allowed fans up front to take a quick solo during an extended jam.

I personally feel the highlights of set one were the two new covers Gordon debuted.  The first was the Tower of Power classic “Down To The Nightclub.”  One couldn’t help but smile when Gordon sung the opening lines “It’s Saturday night and I’m just hanging out – looking for a place to party.”  However it was a cover of the David Essex one hit wonder “Rock On” that not only took the crowd by surprise, but was the hands down highlight of set one.  Gordon and company gave the song a cold almost mechanical feel and stretched it well past 10 minutes as it morphed into “Susskind Hotel.”  The set closed with a rocking “Idea” as many fans snuck off the crowded GA floor and marched back to the bar to get a head start on drinking during set break.

The second set got off to a great start with the opening track from Moss called “Can’t Stand Still.”  Many fans pogoed and bounced as Gordon lead his backing band through the melodic number.  As the set progressed, we witnessed the live debut of “I Sure Miss My Mind” featuring keyboardist Tom Cleary on lead vocals.   The song was enjoyable, but it stuck out like a sore thumb compared to the other bass heavy jams.  Any momentum lost was quickly recovered with the Phish song – “Sugar Shack.”  With fans cracking Mike up with chants for “Fuck Your Face” and “Harpua” all night, “Sugar Shack” was the lone Phish song blessed upon Southern California this year.

The covers continued as the band performed both a moody version of the Gillian Welch song “Time (The Revelator)” and a funkified cover of the 70’s instrumental “River Niger.”  Where covers were the highlight of the first set, the musical highlight of set II was the closing “15 Step>Another Door.”  Anyone who knows anything about music is aware that Gordon is one of the most under-rated bassist in rock music.  Since the return of Phish, Cactus has really upped his playing to a whole new level and to stand two feet from the man upon such a tiny stage was an amazing experience.

Before chants of Cactus could really take off, the band was back on stage for an encore (no joke, I think they were off stage for about 45 seconds).  Playing the lone song from his solo debut Inside In the crowd was treated to funky version of “Soulfood Man.”  For one final time the So-Cal jam fans that were lucky enough to make it into the intimate venue got their fix of 1/4th of Phish.  With Gordon going slap happy on his 5 string bass, smiles were plentiful and all who made it in were thankful for a wonderful night of music.

A direct descendant of the outlaw Jesse James and star of a 1983 Kilpatricks Bread radio commercial, Reverend Justito has taken his gift of ADHD and put it to good use by creating one of a kind concert reviews. A bootlegger at heart, the man lives off Whiskey, Taco Bell and the love of San Francisco sports teams.
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