Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Live Review: Craig Finn 2/3/16 The Appel Room Lincoln Center, NYC

Craig Finn
Live 2/3/16
The Appel Room Lincoln Center, NY, NY
Photo from BrooklynVegan
Seeing a lot of shows and being based in Manhattan RtBE will often get asked what is the best place to see live music in New York? Well now we have an official answer: The Appel Room. Overlooking Columbus Circle this venue is amazing not only in site, but sound.

Craig Finn took the stage on this cold rainy night as part of the American Songbook Series with his band: Stuart Bogie-Horns, Walter Martin-Keyboards, Josh Kaufman-Guitar, Jonathan Shaw-Bass, Joe Russo-Drums. The group were more relaxed and nuanced then past Finn outfits and the focus this night was clearly on Finn's newest record which Kaufman produced.

Opening with a delicate/stripped down version of "Certain Songs" the acoustics in the room were immediately evident, every note rose and soared crystal clear; not enough can be written about the venues beautiful clarity. Unfortunately though this was the only Hold Steady song to be played on the evening, with one Lifter Puller tune also getting a nod ("Nassau Coliseum"). The rest of the 15 song set saw Finns newest full album plus out takes, a few older solo tunes and of all things a new song get an airing.

Our favorite of the bunch was the b-cut from Faith in the Future that showed up second in the set list, "Three Drinks". A question RtBE would love to pose to Finn is why this was left off the album proper as it is a great song, and to these ears would have been FitF's top few tracks.

Everything from that album sounded excellent on this night if more restrained as the band never turned up the volume or energy which suited the space, arraignments and songs fine. "Sandra From Scranton" spread out luxuriously, "Christine" felt desperate and "Newmyers Roof" bubbled along. Other solo efforts off of Clear Heart Full Eyes like "Western Pier" lost a bit of their Austin edge, but still set a cinematic scene.

While RtBE has never ran from our all-out affection towards Finn, on this night more love for the band that brought him to national attention needed to be shown. It just didn't feel like the right place for multiple b-cuts and trying out a new song ("The Screenwriter's Office" which had some sort of siren/feedback throughout) was a misstep.

All that said, anytime one of our favorite all-time songwriters plays the best room in the best city, we can not complain too much...
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Support the artist, buy his most recent album, peep some video not from this show particularly but a promo for it:

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