The Old 97's put on a killer show last night at the Tralf Music Hall in Buffalo Wednesday night. Over its long career -- 20 years in the saddle -- this band has maintained a casual elegance amidst its beautiful songs.
After an exuberant set by openers The O's (banjo and guitar, mostly), The Old 97's rolled out on stage like a freight train. Ken Bethea's guitar playing is just the stuff for players who masturbate over tone and twang. You didn't need to search for it in the mix as he was dialed in large and insane. It hurt in spots but hell, it's the hammer of the gods, right?
The whole band bounded about the stage, especially bassist Murry Hammond who slung his bass like a rifle. The song selection was great and I, along with a bunch of starry-eyed hopefuls, was going to leave with a pout if I didn't hear "Big Brown Eyes," "Victoria Lee," and one of the best love songs ever written, "Question."
Front man Rhett Miller still maintains his shaggy, David Cassidy good looks while slinging musical barbs and lyrics. He is one of the best turners of phrase alive. "Wish you were here, wish I was too." "The place was full of undertakers, movers, and martini shakers." "She started out on Percodan and ended up with me." He intoned them all over a rollicking indie-countrypolitan sea. 'Twas beauteous.