M Ward at Neumo’s: 1 September 2005
M Ward kicked off the tour promoting his new record Post War here in Seattle on Friday night. The house was packed, it’s refreshing to know that 800 or so people really like this guy. He’s got this persona of an eccentric uncle that as a kid you’re not sure of, but as you get older you realize that he’s kinda cool…in a weird sorta way.
The band marched on stage to Daniel Johnston’s To Go Home, and then started into their cover version of the same song, which consequently is the second song on the new album. The first thing I noticed was that he had 2 drummers (one of which was Rachel Blumberg). Many bands have used two drummers, the Fall, Can, and the Warlocks all come to mind, but someone like M Ward would probably be the last person I would expect to see use two. Surprisingly, it seemed to work (at least for part of the show), especially for the more rocking numbers. It seemed like the band was really rehearsed for the more upbeat rockers, but the slower numbers seemed to suffer for a lack softness or understanding from the band. Maybe it was the limitations of the sound system, or because it was the first show of the tour, but the slower more intricate songs did not seem to have the detail of sound that you get on record.
My primitive mathematical mind divided the show up into three parts. The first part seemed a bit disjointed, they started out with the Daniel Johnston’s cover and then did Four Hours in Washington…so far so good, but then they did a couple slower ones that didn’t sound too well rehearsed, and then meandered into something else. At this point he almost lost me, but then the band left leaving Ward and his guitarist on stage.
I’ll call it part two of the show.
The duo went through a bunch of songs that started to resonate a bit better including new one Eyes on the Prize and, one song that I can’t remember the name of which had a bunch of whistling that was really nice.
…Which brings us to part 3.
The band comes back out and they rock out. We get Big Boat, Helicopter, Requiem, and as well as some others that I can’t remember. The band really seemed to be in their element during this part of the show…I was in awe at he rapid fire of excellent songs, and hardly a breather between any of them, amazing.
The encore had Ward come out by himself with an acoustic. He stalked the stage hunched over the six string, making it sound like a twelve string. I could have listened to an entire show of him picking a guitar, the whole crowd was transfixed. He could have ended it there, but the band came out for one more song to send everyone on their way.
Oh, by the way, pictures are by me. I think they’re a bit better than the ones of the Decemberists…but still not great.