Eric Bachmann led a pared-down version of Crooked Fingers through a memorable set Thursday night, while Gaslight Anthem managed to include tastes of Velvet Underground and Prince in their set earlier in the evening.---
Crooked Fingers is a project led by former Archers of Loaf frontman Eric Bachmann, and the band’s lineup seems to be one in constant flux. On the current tour, undertaken as Bachmann readies some new songs for a recording session coming up in October, it was simply Bachmann on guitar and vocals, and a drummer/guitarist/harmony vocalist whose name Bachmann barely mentioned (sorry Liz Whatever-Your-Name-Is, you were great).
The towering Bachmann is an imposing physical presence on stage, with his grizzled gray beard, and his deep, sonorous voice adds to the image. The look belies his sound, though, which is full of downright pretty, albeit heart-rending, songs that are surprisingly ornate given their rather spartan arrangements.
Crooked Fingers 17-song set, played to a few dozen on hand at The Urban Lounge, touched on a decade’s worth of songs, starting with opener “Manowar” and ending with an encore that included a stunning version of “Juliette.” In between, Bachmann and his percussive partner delivered familiar favorites like “New Drink for the Old Drunk,” “Crowned in Chrome,” “Don’t Say a Word,” “Black Black Ocean” and “Little Bird,” while also debuting new songs, some of them still nameless. One of those new songs, “Your Apocalypse,” is sure to make the cut when Bachmann records a new Crooked Fingers album next month.
Here’s a hoping a few more folks drop in the next time Bachmann comes to town. He just might be one of the best American songwriters going.
Earlier at The Depot, The Gaslight Anthem headlined a show in the half-full room that showcased the divergent influences that feed the retro-rockers’ sound.
The band relies on the talents of singer/songwriter Brian Fallon, and he proved to be quite the charming frontman, chatting up the crowd constantly, gently reprimanding some rabid fans who kept yelling out song requests and leading the band into impromptu versions of some of his favorite old songs, from Prince’s “Kiss” to Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane” and Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side.”
More importantly, his songwriting, full of anthemic rockers and narrative tales of the working class, clearly hit home with the fans on hand who pogo’d and moshed their way through the set of The Gaslight Anthem’s straightforward rock and roll.
The band opened with the title track of its new American Slang album, and the set included plenty of that critically hailed set’s tunes. “Boxer,” “The Diamond Church Street Choir,” “Bring It On” and “The Queen of Lower Chelsea” all hit their mark, garnering loud responses from the fans who clearly were familiar with all three of the band’s albums, enough so to sing along no matter what the band played. “The ’59 Sound” and “Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts” were also highlights of the band’s show.