Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Caedmon's Call Review

About two hours into Caedmon’s set on Saturday I glanced over at the friends I was with and their almost-two-year-old Goddaughter was sprawled across their laps fast asleep as Andy and Derek wailed the harmonies of “Hold the Light,” and that moment encapsulates the beauty of the evening for me: the combination of love and familiarity mixed together with new things that fit as if they’ve been long worn in.

As soon as Derek walked on stage and picked up his 12-string to start playing I felt the expectancy in the whole room spill over and wash towards the front and it was like all of that energy was precisely funneled back in the howling acoustics of the songs. I thought Derek nailed his set 100%- reformed theology! wry humor! powerful vocals! intense guitar! convulsive twitches away from the mic! By merit of being a popular favorite I sometimes resent the seeming omnipresence of “Wedding Dress” as part of Derek’s set but hearing it Saturday night the sound was so fresh it was like walking in my homeland, along the Gulf of Mexico at night with the air so full and the pulse of waves at my side, it was that good.

When the “small army that is now Caedmon’s Call” came out together there was a palpable rising of excitement which finally bubbled over when everyone stood up to clap and dance to “Two Weeks in Africa” which was great. I was so happy to be part of a crowd who seemed to feel the joy I did at getting to be a part of this tour- I bought tickets months ago which was just the culmination of my excitement that Derek collaborated on this album at all. My enthusiasm for Derek’s presence noted, Andy Osenga brings something undeniably awesome to the band.- he writes songs that are slightly different for them, he ROCKS and writhes with the guitar, when he hammers on a string you can’t help but take some serious notice, and when he talks he’s hilarious, to boot. As delighted as I was to hear Derek blended with Danielle and Cliff again, the truly thrilling thing for me (on the “Overdressed” album, too of course) was getting to hear Derek and Andy together. I already mentioned the wonder of “Hold the Light” but Andy’s solo set was superb too and made all the more elegant by Derek’s slightly wandering presence stage left nodding along, totally immersed in the music. Not to mention one of the hands-down highlights of the show was the power combo of Andy, Cliff, Danielle, and Derek totally soaring through the harmonies of “Expectations.” So hats off to Andy O.

There were so many other great moments though- there is something so lyrical and primal about Garett on percussion, as someone else noted Josh totally filled in when Derek was doing some crazy multi-tasking after breaking a string on “Faith My Eyes,” it blows my mind to have as much percussion as Caedmon’s does but what would the sound be like without Todd?! A few songs in I started to feel the bass through the pews and have to reiterate my earlier question in regards to Jeff who just manages to make the songs feel so much fuller. I agreed with whoever commented that Danielle seemed under-utilized. Her voice is so much that trademark Caedmon’s sound and I don’t think she actually spoke at all. Someone noted that during their first show Andy seemed to sort of be the extra guitar player on the side and I couldn’t help but feel like Cliff and Danielle didn’t get to carve their unique places. The trio of voices during many of the “old” songs was exhilarating but I would have liked to get more personality coming through. My most outstanding memory of Cliff during the show was his hilarious “transition” to talk about DFN and analogizing the possibility of forgetting the words of “This World” to when your kids run around the corner and you can see in their eyes that they’ve chosen the moment to poop. “Anybody been to India?!”

As others mentioned it was definitely a long set but I was engaged during every song and walked away in disbelief that I only paid $15 for the ticket- who gets a three hour concert for that!? Once again Caedmon’s established LIVE why they have remained one of my favorite bands for the past ten years. Two things would have made that show better (1) SANDRA (2) Far from stoning whoever suggested it, I agree that a song or two off of “Long Line of Leavers” (which I still maintain is their most underrated record!) would have rounded out the set- we’re not all married and settled yet!

Overall, though, left me thoughtful, joyful, and content- who can ask for more than that?

originally published here

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