Saturday, October 6, 2012

‘ard of ‘earing – Ben Harper at The Merriam Theater – 10/3/12

Sorry for the delay in posting this but it has been a busy few days. Also, the battery in my camera died so there aren’t a ton of photos and some just came out blurry. Oh well, sometimes the memory is better preserved in your mind and I’ll remember this one for a long time. At one point during the night Ben thanked the crowd for making it possible for him to do shows like this and I was impressed the crowd kept the shouting throughout the night to a bare minimum. Ben incorporated a mix of his classics and covers and used almost all of the guitars on stage. I assumed the piano and xylophone were only for effect but they would be put into use as well. He also opened and closed with the uke for “Blessed to be a Witness” and “Suzie Blue,” the later of which was delivered from the front of the stage sans mic. He thanked the crowd for skipping the presidential debate to come see him but hoped we voted, regardless of who it was for before going into “Excuse Me Mr.” He mentioned the new album, “The Devil You Know” that he produced and played on with Rickie Lee Jones and performed “Masterpiece” which she covered on it. He played piano on “Younger Than Today” and a new song “Trying Not To Fall In Love With You.” He switched from a Stratocaster to a telecaster in true Springsteen style for “Atlantic City” and filled in the gaps in the song imploring the crowd to chant “Bruce.” He played two on the xylophone, Marvin Gaye’s “Trouble Man” and Pearl Jam’s “Indifference,” both of which brought a hush over the crowd and then a quiet sing-a-long. He mentioned meeting Jeff Buckley before “Hallelujah.” He noted that it was a Leonard Cohen song but for all intents and purposes it was now Jeff’s. The encore seemed like more of a second set as it stretched to 14 songs. As it approached midnight Ben asked the crew if they could go past the curfew and that if it was just about money (presumably fines for staff overtime etc). It must've been a strict curfew as they hurriedly brought out a set-up for Luke Spehar, who had opened shows earlier in the tour. They played Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love” with Spehar adding 12 string guitar once they got his gear in order. Ben thanked everyone for coming out, for making his music mean so much, and treated everyone to one last song. Shows like this remind me of why I became a fan in the first place (and wonder why Ben hasn't released official bootlegs yet). I also hope the version of "Atlantic City" on the site is available for download sometime.      

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