Beth and I went to see Richard Buckner at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard a couple weeks ago. Joining us for the evening were Lydia Lavender and her husband, Mr. Lavender. They were appropriate companions as I originally met Lydia when she left me a comment on a Richard Buckner concert post I’d written on Vox (back in 2007). I’d started my site less than two weeks before and her comment was either my first or second.
The four of us had dinner at Elysian and then headed over to Ballard where we squeezed in a bit of record shopping at Sonic Boom before the show. We got to the Tractor Tavern early enough that we were able to snag four chairs in the front row. The chairs were the folding kind and extremely uncomfortable, but the view was probably the best in the house. The opening act was Kevin Murphy of a Seattle band called the Moondoggies. I liked him.
This was the first show of Richard Buckner’s tour and he seemed genuinely happy to take the stage and sing his songs. He was far chattier than I remember him being the other few times I’ve seen him. I think he talked to the audience more in the first five minutes of this show than he did in all the others added together. He made jokes, told stories, and even respectfully interacted with a few annoying people who tried to chat him up from the audience. Richard might’ve taken advantage of Washington’s lax marijuana laws before the show, but I shouldn’t speculate about such things.
The show was great. Despite it being the first of the tour, Richard Buckner didn’t seem the least bit rusty. He played a combination of songs going all the way back to my favorite album, 1997’s Devotion + Doubt. Every album released since then was represented in the setlist. Song highlights for me included “Ed’s Song”, “Pull”, “Song of 27”, and “Reuben Pantier”. That last one was my favorite Richard Buckner song until some goof announced to everyone in the venue that it was also his favorite Richard Buckner song. I like it when people like the things I like, but I hate it sometimes when people love the things I love. I also think that audience members should mostly shut the fuck up.
The show wasn’t all old stuff and audience blathering. Richard has a new album called Surrounded scheduled for release on Merge sometime later this year. He played five songs from it. (Or maybe I should say that he played five songs I didn’t recognize; I’m just assuming they’re all from the new album.) I liked the new songs, although he mentioned that the versions he was playing live weren’t necessarily what the songs are going to sound like on the album. He described the recorded version of one of them as “electronic music made by a dying hobo”; the version he played during the concert sounded like a regular old Richard Buckner song.
Here’s the setlist. I’ve got all the songs in there and in the correct order, but Richard only announced the title of one of the five new songs he performed. That song was “Beautiful Question”, and he mentioned that he wrote it in an attempt to write something as good as “And a Bang on the Ear” by the Waterboys. That’s my favorite Waterboys song, but I didn’t mind it also being Richard’s. It was sort of the opposite of the “Reuben Pantier” situation from above. But anyway, I wrote down partial lyrics for the other four new songs and will give them accurate titles when Surrounded gets released and I can give it a proper listen. Until then, here you go:
Main set: Surrounded (“you just won’t lie down”)/Picture Day/Born Into Giving It Up/Jewelbomb/Collusion/Ed’s Song–>Pull/Mood (“I think it’s fair”)/Reuben Pantier/Song of 27/Before/Traitor/Put on What You Wanna/When You Tell Me How It Is (“just like that a crowd broke through”)/Firsts/Loaded at the Wrong Door/Faithful Shooter/Escape/Beautiful Question/Ariel Ramirez
Encore: Still Looking For You (Townes Van Zandt cover)
Here are a few pictures relating to the concert:
If you’d like to see a couple awesome pictures from the show, you should check out Lydia’s flickr page. She took an amazing shot of Richard Buckner hanging around the merch table after the show. She caught him looking very happy and un-Buckner-like. Merge should probably hire her for press photos.
[UPDATE (6/27): Began correcting the titles of the new songs.]
[UPDATE (9/2): Updated more new titles.]