Live review: Todd Snider @ the Boulder TheaterBy Candace Horgan | January 11th, 2010 | 1 Comment »
Nobody tells a story like Todd Snider. He may sound like a slacker stoner, but Snider’s sly delivery and clever lyrics entrance the listener. Nobody else but Snider could sing a line about “a Pirate’s pitcher throwing a no-hitter on LSD” and make it seem perfectly normal. Snider never seems to take himself too seriously though. As he said near the beginning of his set at the Boulder Theater Friday night, “If things go well, we’ll provide a 90-minute distraction.”
Snider was backed by Great American Taxi, which includes Leftover Salmon frontman Vince Herman on guitar and mandolin, Jim Lewin on electric guitar, Chad Staehly on piano, Edwin Hurwitz on bass and Chris Sheldon on drums.
Snider opened with “Greencastle Blues,” with Herman’s mandolin filling in the spaces around Snider’s guitar line. Snider and Herman also meshed well on “Just Like Old Times,” a timeless, weary lament with its line “Just like the old times, living out our own kind of American dream.” Herman’s gravely voice harmonized perfectly with Snider’s vocal delivery.
Snider’s set mixed country, folk and rock elements all night. On “Play a Train Song,” the chugging guitar rhythms mimicked the feel of a train, while on “45 Miles” Lewin ripped a solo on his electric guitar. “East Nashville Skyline” was a perfect blast of smooth country honk, with Staehly rocking boogie-woogie piano and Snider and Herman harmonizing on the chorus.
Snider has made no secret that his politics lean towards the libertarian left, and Snider has, over the years, written several protest songs, a few of which were worked into the middle of the set, beginning with “Conservative Christian, Right Wing, Republican, Straight, White, American Males,” a sardonic blast at the us-and-them mentality that has pervaded the American political landscape over the last couple decades.
Snider continued the political topics with the sadly relevant “Bring ‘Em Home,” a lament for the soldiers still overseas, and “Sideshow Blues,” a Dylan-esque riposte to the media’s headline-based coverage of the news. Snider may have been preaching to the choir in Boulder, but the message was nonetheless well-received.
Snider added a couple of covers late in his set, including the Grateful Dead’s “I Need a Miracle” with crazed piano from Staehly, and “Hound Dog,” sung by his tech, who imitated Elvis’ voice and mannerisms.
Snider was at his storytelling best on the encore, starting with a song about a guy who came over to clean the windows on his car whose name turned out to be Tony Bennett, and continuing with “Ballad of the Devil’s Backbone Tavern.”
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Joshua Elioseff is a Boulder-based freelance photographer and new contributor to Reverb. Check out his website.