[sic] Magazine

Avett Brothers with Old Crow Medicine Show, TD Gardens Boston Mass, 8th March 2014

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A great night!

It is Boston Massachusetts, on a bitterly cold Saturday night but it’s a huge crowd in the TD Garden, home of the Celtics and the Bruins, who are determined to turn this cavernous ice hockey stadium into a big alt country hoedown. The bands tasks with delivering this outcome are two of America’s most venerated live acts – Old Crow Medicine Show and the Avett Brothers. They succeed with room to spare.

The former open the show like a ‘newgrass’ version of the Pogues and the 14,000 punters in the TD Arena lapped it up. They managed to turn this huge space into an intimate Nashville Club and deliver a set with enough energy on stage to light their own rig. In particular Keith Secor their charismatic frontman and ace fiddler appeared everywhere, leading the charge through standards like ‘Mary’s Kitchen’ and ‘Alabama High Test’. That said no band member slacked on the job and collectively they are all masters of their trade. The songs were belted out with abandon but the subtleties were not lost. A stunning ‘Wagon Wheel’ followed a rendition of Woody Guthrie’s alternative national anthem ‘This land is your land’ where the crowd knew every word. They iced the cake with a final cover of Tom Petty’s ‘American Girl’ which the great man himself would have struggled to better.

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Last time the Avett’s appeared in Boston it was to headline a mere 5,000 seat theatre. The brothers from Concord North Carolina have relentlessly worked the live circuit and they have a following in the US which is both huge and fanatical. Following a set of veterans like OCMS would daunt some bands but the Brothers took it in their stride. Opening with their recent single ‘Another is Waiting’ they then proceeded to mix up the set with a range of ballads, standards and outright rockers. The complex mix of ‘Pretty Girl from Chile’ oozed class while a raucous ‘Laundry Room’ brought the house down. The Avetts have a considerable discography behind them and as such they considerably vary their sets from night to night. They range wide and free this evening not least with the it introduction of an almost heavy metal version of ‘Paul Newman Vs The Demons’, nailing the superb big piano ballad ‘I and Love and You’ and letting loose a storming cover of John Denver’s ‘Thank God I’m a Country Boy’ where they were joined on stage by Keith Secor.

The big highlights came in the form of a poignant ‘Murder in the City’ sung solo by Scott Avett and a brilliant ‘Head full of Doubt, Road full of Promise’. The band itself is a whirling spectacle with Bob Crawford and Joe Kwon trading bass riffs and drummer Mike Marshproviding good percussive order.

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It was inevitable that Old Crow Medicine Show would join them for the encore but in a very good way. A boisterous version of the old standard ‘Will the Circle be Unbroken’ was finally followed by the sweetness of the old Spaniels doo-wop hit ‘Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight’ with Seth Avett ably adding the deep bass voice backdrop. It was a concert that aimed to please a big audience as a never ending US winter again covers Boston streets with snow and freezes the Charles River. In this sense the sheer warmth and verve of these two bands was the perfect antidote to the big chill and as you left the venue any punter with good sense would have tipped a wink to the mighty forces and give thanks for a truly memorable evening.

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