Hootie & The Blowfish
14 July 1995
Events Center, Pueblo, CO
Only about once every 3-4 years do I hear a currently popular recording act that sounds interesting to me. When I heard "Let Her Cry" on a road trip to the Pacific Northwest, the vocals sounded like a cross between Bill Withers and Barry White, and the band seemed to pay tribute to a garagey, Neil-Young-And-Crazy-Horse spirit. The fact that the song nicely mixed acoustic rhythm and electric lead guitar with profound lyrics like, "If it eases all her pain, let her go," further drew my attention.
Later in the trip, I heard the same group performing "Only Wanna Be With You", a track that reminded me of several Latino-Stephen-Stills tunes I've heard in the past two decades. It was later that I found out that the same group owned the smash hit of earlier months, "Hold My Hand", a song I liked for its harmonies. And, it turned out that the harmonies were performed by no other than David Crosby.
So, I sought out their album, Cracked Rear View, and discovered that their record label was the same one that Crosby, Stills & Nash have belonged to for 25 years, Atlantic. After sampling the album, I checked their tour schedule and found out they were booked for a gig 40 miles South of home, and I got a couple tickets for my friend and I.
Turns out my friend couldn't go, but he found a co-worker who expressed interest, though she wasn't really familiar with the band. As she and I were cruising to the concert, I asked her what kind of music she liked, and she responded, "Well, I like George Strait," and I became concerned that she might not find this concert to be very entertaining.
She and I mixed in with an audience of fans aged about 18-48, an age span commonly found with bands that have been popular for decades.
HBF opened the show, as they opened their hit album, with a loud, foot-stompin' "Hannah Jane". The rest of the setlist combined almost every track off the new album, new material such as "Tucker's Town", and several cover tunes. Tracks off of Cracked Rear View that worked especially well on stage were "Time" and "I'm Going Home". "Let Her Cry" started off deliberately slow, but eventually worked into the momentum that the studio version has.
Lead singer Darius Rucker kept a baseball cap on the whole evening, and strummed on acoustic guitars most of the evening, switching to a Suzanna Hoffs-like Rickenbacker for a song. Lead guitarist Mark Bryan resembles every dream an adolescent has of being a famous lead guitarist. His gymnastics onstage, including Pete Townshend-like windmills, as well as his bluesy, melodic notes excellently served both in lead phrasings as well as in complex rhythm patterning.
The cover tunes included Bill Withers' "Use Me", Stephen Stills' "Love The One You're With" in the key of A, and John Lennon's "The Ballad Of John And Yoko".
After a programmed encore of "Hold My Hand", opening act Dillon Fence joined HBF for a second encore with "Mustang Sally".
HBF fills today's generation's void left by Creedence Clearwater Revival--great, down to basics four-piece rock and roll, with meaningful songwriting and soulful, passionate lead vocals. In very sharp, unique contrast with the rest of the current popular music scene.
[****] - Steven T.
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