October 28, 2010
When referring to Jakob Dylan, many immediately and sometimes only recall the MTV and radio friendly unit shifting days of The Wallflowers and "One Headlight." However, as people and musicians are known to do, Dylan has evolved into something of which both pop and more seasoned audiences can equally appreciate. These days, the once young son of Zimmerman’s loins (Bob Dylan), Jakob has matured to find his niche on the folk side of music, embracing what he perhaps at one time may have resented. This night, Jakob and his Three Leg backing band found themselves under the proverbial "Nashville Skyline" while on a short touring stint behind his second "solo" release, Women & Country, and on their way to Voodoo Festival in New Orleans.
If there was a disappointment in the evening, it did not come from Dylan. Rather, it came from the venue and opening act, Dylan LeBlanc.
Exit/In is a setting that has housed virtually every notable on their stage at one time or another since 1971 from Allman Brothers to Jesus Lizard. But instead of behaving as one might expect a veteran venue to, they instead kept the crowd at bay for fifteen or so minutes past the start time that was listed on both their website and on the tickets of fans. Chilly outside it was, and the line only grew, leaving one to wonder exactly what in the hell was going on. This is never a good way to start an evening for fans as it is well known that people bring what they had with them internally into any live show. With a tough task at hand, Dylan LeBlanc had been dealt a shit sandwich from the onset and what he offered did little to win the crowd back to his side.
With a debut album, Paupers Field, recently out, LeBlanc presents with a degree of interest to the common Jakob Dylan admirer. With that said, his live show needs some reorchestration as what has been created in the studio simply did not translate on this night. Lyrically, his tunes are hearty and insightful, but one would never know if he only witnessed a live performance. While his vocal range is a force with which to be reckoned, his enunciation was abysmal. The only true saving graces in this performance were his obvious musical genuineness, his emotive mannerisms, and his backing pedal steel player, Paul Niehaus. While there is much potential here, there is also a lot that must be done to prepare a well written catalogue for critical live audiences.
After what was one of the smoothest and quickest set changes imaginable, Jakob Dylan and Three Legs took the stage with "Nothing but the Whole Wide World." It would take a concerted effort from Dylan and company to win back a crowd that had been lost at the door, but this is exactly what they managed to do. Hitting a mid-set stride with Wallflowers’ cut, "God Says Nothing Back," the crowd was right where they had set out to be the moment they bought tickets to the show.
What was most intriguing of all was Dylan’s stage presence. Donning a dog eared derby style hat, he was far from the sex symbol that he was in the mid-nineties. Rather, his affability came in the form of simple nuances from the stage, but moreover from the fact that there was no mistaking this talent for the honest singer/songwriter that he has always been. From the twang put forth by Paul Leisz’s pedal steel and the raw Telecaster work by Paul Rigby to the accompaniment of the female backup vocalists who ably sang Neko Case’s parts from the album, it was clear that he has similar feelings towards the Music City as his father does. It all could have been served so much better within another venue, perhaps one that offered seating, particularly for the somber and austere moments that Jakob’s music inherently possesses.
On its whole, the night at the Exit/In was one well spent. Jakob Dylan is an artist and writer that is to be taken seriously. In fact, he always has been. Although many are quick to discount something that becomes "popular," one would be remiss to take this position in all cases. And such is the case with Jakob Dylan.
Click the thumbnail to view David Shehi’s Shots from the show!