For the 11th year in a row, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club played the Bluebird Theater on Dec. 30 to kick off the two-night stand that serves to ring out the old year and in the new, and Slim wanted to make sure the faithful there to once again witness the alt-country gothspel according to them understood the band didn’t take it for granted.
“We keep showing up, and you keep showing up, and we’re grateful,” the lead vocalist for the Denver-based band said.
After shouting out their attendance like it was a cattle auction – “Seven, Slim!” or “I’m on number eight!” or just intoning “Munnnly” to declare their love for Slim’s sidekick vocalist – the packed-in crowd showed its appreciation back, often with enthusiastic, revival-style arm-waving.
Dressed in matching black like minstrel preachers, with wallet chains to boot, Slim and Munly led a rousing, if not quite incandescent, set that started high with “Goddamn Blue Yodel #7” and got higher with energetic versions of “This Is How We Do Things In The Country” and “Cranston,” the latter two from the great “The Bloudy Tenent Truth Peace” effort of 2004.
For the most part, though, the night pulled quite a bit from more recent offerings, including one of the night’s best, an exuberant, crowd-inciting “Children of the Lord” from 2008’s “Cipher.” From the same: “Americadio,” “Red Pirate of the Prairie,” and “Everyone is Guilty #2,” along with a Slim-Munly vocal smackdown in “Magalina Hagalina Boom Boom.”
They also drew heavily from the most recent effort, this year’s “Unentitled,” with “Do You Know Thee Enemy,” an almost straightforward rocker, coming early, as did the banjo thumper “A Smashing Indictment of Character.” The group waited until the encore to send out “United Brethren” and “Three Bloodhounds Two Shepherds, One Fila Brasileiro.”
Munly mostly alternated between the autoharp and the banjo, and while he’s been more animated at past shows, using his foreboding countenance to help drive the songs home, he was as intensely focused as ever, while Slim often sat down at the edge of the stage and once even plunged himself into the crowd, all the better to save a few more souls with the band’s tongue-in-cheek take on the vagaries of human nature.
It’s worth looking forward to again all year.
Goddamn Blue Yodel #7
This Is How We Do Things In The Country
Hold My Head
Do You Know Thee Enemy?
That Fierce Cow Is Common Sense In A Country Dress
Cold Cold Eyes
The Unballed Ballad of the New Folksinger
Magalina Hagalina Boom Boom
Children of the Lord
My Last Black Scarf
Red Pirate of the Prairie
A Smashing Indictment of Character
Everyone Is Guilty #2
Three Bloodhounds Two Shepherds, One Fila Brasileiro
Last Song About Satan
Unto the Day
Kyle Wagner is a regular contributor to Reverb and travel editor at The Denver Post.
Jason Bach is a Denver photographer and a new contributor to Reverb.