Concert Review

Roseland Theater, Portland, Oregon, USA

- July 28, 2004

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by Edward Lacie

Edward Lacie is the author of the e-novel, "Harar: Taken to Twin Peaks"
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Review by Edward Lacie

* * *

In concert, truly a "Mutual Admiration Society", Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket (TWS) and the members of Nickel Creek, Sara and Sean Watkins and Chris Thule took the stage with John Paul Jones of Led Zepelin in their "second show" as Phillips announced.

Unlike their new, eponymous CD, on which Phillips takes center stage, their live performance was akin to putting Nickel Creek, TWS and Led Zepelin CDs in a player with the new MAS one and hitting "random."

This has the excellent advantage of balancing MAS's slow style to the lively antics of Nickel Creek.

The show opened with the group's "Trouble" which was followed by the radio-worthy "Sake of the World," a doleful lament very in keeping with TWS's catalogue.

The next song, an unfamiliar "Don't You Call My Name" featured the capable Sara Watkins' singing.

The next song, from the MAS CD, is also a TWS song from the mid-90s, "Windmills." It is an excellent showcase for the ensemble instruments.

After Thule thanked (Portland radio station) KINK, they launched into Nickel Creek's "Smoothie Song."

Phillips said he wrote the following song, "King for a Day," but Thule sang lead.

MAS's song, "La Lune," a highlight of the new CD, was next, followed by "Somewhere Out There," also from the new CD (no, it's not that tear-jerker from the late 80s).

Phillips announced that the next song would be a sing-along and launched into (TWS's) "All I Want."

The next few songs showcased the range of the group, the first featuring Sara singing and playing, surrounded closely by Phillips, Thune and Jones doing background vocals on the nearly acapella "Anthony."

All departed the stage and Chris Watkins returned to the stage followed by Jones who got a loud, appreciative ovation. The pair did an instrumental "Going to California" (an old Led Zepelin tune, for those under 30) that was nostalgic and masterly.

Glenn Phillips donned an acoustic guitar for the next solo, the unfamiliar "Don't Need Anything."

Thune followed with something he said was from his solo project which he is "just finishing," "(Null?) You Are Everything," at the end of which all the members returned to the stage. 

Nickel Creek's foot-stompin' instrumental "Ode to a Butterfly" had the rafters swayin'. After one Nickel Creek number, Thune responded to the hearty applause, "That's right. This is Portland. They love us in Portland."

A haunting song from Toad the Wet Sprocket's last CD, "Dam Would Break" came next.

Nickel Creek's "Reasons Why," again with Sara on vocals, was quickly followed by what almost seemed like an impromptu cover of the Beatles' "Taxman," in a frenzied, fitting manner. Thule's mandolin seems especially memorable.

MAS's "Comes A Time" again features Phillips on vocals, another TWS-worthy dirge. It was followed by Nickel Creek's excellent "This Side" and the hyperactive "The Fox" with Thule not only providing rapid uke-plucking but the locomotive lyrics as well.

And they left the stage. The less-than-capacity but extra enthusiastic crowd maintained a roar long enough for all to return the stage. As they re-tuned instruments, someone yelled out in request "Battle of Nevermore" (an old Zepelin tune) which got a few chuckles. Imagine the surprise when the encore song was "Hangman," a Zepelin song.

A standing ovation brought the band back for a second encore, the unfamiliar but infectious "Don't Have to Move That Mountain," which featured Sara on vocals.

Too soon the house lights were up and Mutual Admiration Society, having lived up to their name, were gone. My only complaint, they didn't add "Be Careful" (from the new CD) to one of the two encores. It too could be a radio-worthy hit. 

Mutual Admiration Society's so-called second gig: a big success.

Edward Lacie


Harar: Taken to Twin Peaks, by Edward Lacie

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