Let’s get one thing straight from the off. I am a massive fan of both bands but I will endeavour to keep this as objective as possible. The Rockingbirds are always reliable and the set was a mixture of newbies and old favourites ending with the classic Jonathan that gets the dozen or so old timers in the crowd singing and bopping. The couple in front of us asked who they were afterwards and we just might have converted two more fans.
It’s a sparse crowd tonight with the Empire ¾ full, which is a blessing on such a hot night. Every expense has bene spared on the set with minimal lighting and no backdrop. But when the music’s this good you don’t really mind.
They rattle through the ‘best of’ the three albums throwing in some oldies from the ‘Hollywood Town Hall’ and ‘Tomorrow the Green Grass’ and also a Golden Smog number. The highlights for me were ‘Trouble’, ‘Waiting for the Sun’ and the fantastic ‘Tampa to Tulsa’ with drummer Tim O’Reagan on lead vocals, (check out his solo album).
The band is on top form and the harmonies between Gary Louris, Tim and Karen Grotman on keyboards are perfectly complemented. Marc who? I hear you cry. Louris keeps the banter to a minimum but does mention how much he disliked the last album. Could be the end for Olsen. Kraig Johnson has joined this particular line up and has slotted in perfectly and it will be interesting to see if they make a new album together.
The final encore ends with a rousing ‘Tailspin’ and crowd leave wandering round ‘the bush’ humming through the tunes. A great night with great bands, great friends but maybe that second double JD after the beer could have been avoided. Still it was all worth Saturday morning fuzziness.