I’ve gone to enough concerts over the years to have some kind of idea of what to expect. If I go see someone, particularly someone I’ve seen multiple times and have a general fondness for, at some point in the show they’re gonna play a song I’m not all that into. Not a bad song mind you, just one that I don’t dig as much as some other people might. If the show is over an hour, this becomes a definite. Last night Ike Reilly played a damn near two hour set that shattered my theory into a million pieces.
Reilly seemed a bit more relaxed than the past couple times is seen him. His band had scolded him the night before in St Louis for rambling too much, so he kept the banter to a minimum (for him), and let the tunes do the talking. A lot of old friends were in the audience, and Reilly made sure to point them out and thank them for all their support.
The band was on fire all night. From the Salesmen And Racists-heavy opening to the Pogues covers (“Dirty Old Town” and “If I Should Fall From The Grace Of God”) they threw in for St Patrick’s Day, every song was an expertly-executed masterclass in rock and roll. Audience members were happily dancing and screaming along with every word Ike sang.
We didn’t get to hear as much of Reilly’s latest release, Born On Fire, as I would have liked. It was in my top 20 albums of last year so I would’ve been happy to hear it all. Getting to hear a great version of the title track was a highlight of the night for me, certainly.
I was also happy to hear a couple tracks from We Belong To The Staggering Evening, which for my money is every bit a classic as Racists. For “Valentine’s Day In Juarez” Ike brought the man who inspired the song to the stage to tell the drug-fueled story behind the song. Cracker, the long-time tour driver for the band, seemed more than happy to revisit old times on stage.
The band played as tight as ever, with saxophonist extraordinaire Mars Williams off and on the stage for various songs. Lead guitarist Phil Karnats had more than a few sick solos throughout the night and bass player (or bass-BALL player, as Ike stumbled last night) Pete Cimbalo was a lightning bolt flashing from one side of the stage to the other singing into any microphone he could find. Dave Cottini and Adam Krier performed as well as you could possibly ask, with Krier doing triple duty on guitar, keys, and melodica.
If you haven’t seen Ike Reilly live yet, please rectify this is soon as possible. Not only is he one of America’s finest songwriters, he’s also one of our greatest performers. He and his band play no-frills rock and roll with a power most bands could only wish to provide an audience.