It's hard to believe it was their 26th show since the Spring tour of their new album VII, but last Thursday night at The State Room, Blitzen Trapper gave Salt Lake City a passionate performance full of surprises.---
This is one band for whom a cliche truly applies; they really are better live. Songs that escaped my notice from the new record became favorites after hearing them live, like the groovy keyboard-heavy "Faces of You"- a song that really started off the first real hip-swaying of the night. By this time, lead singer Eric Earley was in typical Eric Earley-mode, adding a quick "yeah" after band members spoke up, and chuckling a little "ha ha" after ending each song. He doesn't really talk much.
Blitzen Trapper rattled through classics like, "Thirsty Man" and "Wild Mountain Nation," but the room temperature seemed to rise along with the crowd's warmth when "American Goldwing" came on, a beloved harmonica-rich, folksy-grass tune off Trapper's 6th album American Goldwing. It's soul-awakening lyrics generated the loudest applause of the night yet:
"We ride these waters dark and dusty / So ride my people ride / My lover's mind is made, it's made, and I think it's time to get on board."
Things stayed mellow with the next trio of beautiful, dark songs: "Black River Killer," "Lady on the Water," wrapping up nicely with the Elton John-like rock anthem "Astronaut." "Heart Attack", another track I previously underestimated until hearing live lead to the first big explosive moment of the night -Earley's badass guitar solo in which he held his guitar vertically and worked it for what seemed like a solid minute.
Still short for words, Earley was playful with the crowd, making funny faces and gestures at people. During the upbeat, dance-worthy tune "Shine On" he finally gave a shout out to one duo who'd been dancing together with matching moves, saying "that's the best dancing I've seen in a while…all synchronized."
Things came to a close with favorite Trapper tunes like "Love the Way You Walk Away" and a slower, more intense version of "Furr." A longer than usual wait before the encore had Earley back out on his own with guitar and harmonica, to give us one last somber lullaby, "Stranger in a Strange Land," a sound in which he seems to channel a nice Willie Nelson/Bob Dillon blend.
Just when we thought it was time to say goodbye, the rest of the band stepped out on stage announcing a new cover. It seemed like forever while the crowd whistled and hooted in suspense. Chris Isaac's "Wicked Games" was the surprise cover, which was somewhat underwhelming. They quickly redeemed themselves with the best thrill of the night, Lenny Kravitz’s, “Are You Gonna Go My Way," proving their level of talent and ability to deliver a damn good show—even if it’s the last of a series of shows.