Yes, that’s right, Scott was booed. Seth was making fun of Joe and it was all fun and games until Scott took it too far and felt the consequences. But I’ll get to that in a minute.
The opener on Night 2 was the Charleston, South Carolina band Shovels and Rope. I’ve been fortunate enough to see Shovels and Rope open for The Avett Brothers twice before — the first time at New Year’s Eve in Charlotte the night the big shiny ball fell, and the second time at Red Rocks this summer. Riley asked “which is Shovels and which is Rope?” He can be forgiven. He’s 12.
Shovels and Rope is the name of the duo that consists of Cary Ann Hearst and her husband Michael Trent. I have their two Busted Jukebox albums (my favorite is their cover of Elvis Costello’s Peace, Love and Understanding). But last night flipped my switch and I’m committed to catching up on their original material. Cary Ann’s voice is perhaps second only to Brandi Carlile’s and Amy Ray’s (okay, third only…). She has a fantastic voice. Cary Ann and Michael play all of the instruments, sometimes simultaneously — watching Michael play drums and keyboards simultaneously is impressive. Seth commented last night that watching them makes him feel like he isn’t using his limbs enough. “Watching them makes me want to play in a band SO much.”
After an energetic 90 minute opening set, The Avett Brothers opened with Satan Pulls the Strings, followed by D Bag Rag and Distraction #74.
It was clear from the get-go that the band was in playful moods. A loose “it’s okay if things don’t go to plan” vibe was a theme throughout the evening and resulted in a set that was alternately laid back, highly charged, and very emotional.
After the opening three songs, they played Paranoia in Bb Major. I have seen them play Paranoia 18 times. I cannot explain why, but last night’s version was my favorite. I haven’t seen any video yet but will post if one pops up.
Next up was The Fall. I love The Fall in concert.
The last song in the energetic opening string was Jump in the Line. I have never liked Jump in the Line before. It always seems so kitchy. But last night (and I swear I wasn’t drinking at all) they totally converted me. It was super fun. I jumped in that line! And then we got the “Poor Joe Kwon” exchange.
Seth: “I’m gonna let you all in on a fun little secret here. There are all these little communications that happen among us on this stage. Moments that we never forget for good or for bad. And poor Joe … Joe Kwon on the cello by the way … [thunderous applause and sustained cheering] … you know a musician isn’t getting their due when their introduction starts with ‘poor, poor Joe.’ Where I’m going with this is that we finished that song, just one time, we played this wonderful song Jump in the Line just one time and Joe hit the final note a little early. And now we can never forget it so every time we finish the song I’m looking over at Tania and she’s laughing her butt off. And he’ll never be able to live it down.”
Scott: “Now wait a minute, how many of you heard him hit it early? [He starts counting the crowd] One, two, three four.”
Seth: “And now you’ll never forget it either. It’ll haunt your dreams like it haunts mine.”
Scott: “You’re all listening way too much to the cello. [the crowd begins to rumble in disagreement] It’s really just a filler instrument. [loud and sustained booing] Who are ya’ll booing? [the crowd starts chanting “Joe Joe Joe!” while Joe throws a bow at Scott] Alright, maybe its not a filler instrument.”
Scott and Seth referenced this booing at the Songwriter’s Workshop, but that’s for another post.
As you can tell, I was pre-disposed to love everything they played last night. That continued with The Once and Future Carpenter. The setlist database says I heard it four times last year, but last night’s was the best that I remember. Delicate. Poignant. Beautiful. Perhaps Scott was feeling a little vulnerable after being booed. And then of course a rousing sing-a-long of Go to Sleep, which was NOT the best version I’ve ever heard. I think that honor belongs to either New Year’s Eve or Red Rocks.
And then, the highlight of the evening for many… The Lowering. Many people in the audience had been to a ton of concerts and never heard The Lowering. It was a special moment that was only slightly marred by those that felt it was a good time to catch up with their friends. They deprived themselves.
Scott and Seth then reassembled at the condenser mic.
Scott: “It’s hard work loving people, ya’ll. It’s not so much fun sometimes either. This song has something to do with that.”
Then Scott spent 20 seconds pretending he couldn’t remember the name of C Sections and Railway Truffles. Seth cracked up and then messed up a line fairly early on.
Seth: “You can’t miss one word or it all goes to hell. I wrote a song where you miss one word and it all goes to hell.” It turned out okay.
Afterwards, the infamous perfectionist Seth Avett remarked: “It’s a funny thing about beging here tonight and last night and last time we did this. There’s this feeling about performing here and just being here that we should probably try to apply to all our performances. It just feels like a a big exhalation. Like if things go wrong, things still aren’t really going wrong. It’s nice. Things go wrong and it’s totally okay. Well anyway, it’s just wonderful. Thank you for being here.”
Seth then introduced Scott on Murder in the City. Usually when Jim and Susie Avett are at a show, they’re backstage during Murder in the City. Last night they watched from the balcony of the green room. I can’t imagine what it would be like as a parent to hear one of your children write and perform that song. Once I noticed that they were there, I looked away because I felt like I was intruding on a private moment. So much love in that family.
After Murder concluded, Seth asked the crowd if there were any Old Crow Medicine Show fans in the house. (There were.) He then announced that Ketch Secor would be helping Tania Elizabeth out. The two then began to play Le Reel Du Pendu (a/k/a Tania Elizabeth solo). That song is ruined for me for all time. They were amazing playing off each other.
Ketch stayed on stage for one more song, a cover of John Denver’s Thank God I’m a Country Boy complete with Scott recreating Denver’s whoop at the end of the song. As I explained in my recap of Night 1, I grew up on John Denver. I know that the Avetts did too but I still can’t believe I got Paradise sung by John Prine and the Avetts on Night 1 and Thank God I’m a Country Boy with Ketch on Night 2.
Next up was Salina and the new-ish song Orion’s Belt (which is very cool to listen to in a place with so little light pollution that you can actually SEE Orion’s Belt.) I have to say, there was an awful lot of integral cello for a night where Scott tried to call it a filler instrument…
According to the setlist database, I saw Bring Your Love to Me back in 2015 in Charlottesville, Virginia. Pretty special hearing it against last night.
We were then treated to a very good version of Open Ended Life and Victims of Life.
Seth: “My God, Bob, what are you doing? What kind of instrument are you holding up?”
Bob: “It’s a sousaphone.”
And then one of my favorite one-two punches, Kick Drum Heart followed by Geraldine. Awesome guitar solo by Seth in KDH. I am a big fan of Scott acting like a rock star on Geraldine. This was a great example, complete with screaming.
The main set ended with Tania Elizabeth taking the lead vocals on Bob Dylan’s I Shall be Released.
Jim Avett came to the stage to launch the encore with Precious Lord, backed by Scott and Seth.
That was followed by Living of Love (again, nothing can top this song at Red Rocks with nearly 10,000 people singing “Say Love”) and finally by Stay All Night (Stay a Little Longer). By this point, I was pretty far back in the concert courtyard but it was fun to watch the security guards in the back dancing during Stay All Night.
And that was all she wrote for Night 2.