New Daisy Theatre
February 28, 2009
It snows in Memphis once, maybe twice a year. On the last night of February the snow came, and arrived with a fury. Well, a fury for Memphis – it would probably just amounted to another wintery day in Chicago. But, this particular snowy day in Memphis delivered 8-10 inches, the biggest snowfall in four decades.
However, the weather didn’t keep a pretty big crowd from venturing to the New Daisy Theatre for Keller Williams.
One thing was evident early on – Keller came to play. Striding on stage, barefoot like always, he immediately went to work, the all-ages crowd lapping it all up like a thirsty puppy. The all-ages crowd at times acted like the younger demographic that dominated the audience represented – teen-aged sorority girls could be heard screaming "WE LOVE YOU KELLER!" every few minutes, with a sporadic "YOU’RE SO HOT!" sprinkled in just to change it up.
The show opened with "Sally Sullivan" and Keller’s trademark take on Grateful Dead tunes, a great version of "Feel Like A Stranger," which segued into a rollicking "Franklin’s Tower," and back into "Sally Sullivan."
The beauty of the Keller Williams experience is just that – the experience. Watching him work his magic amongst the multitude of toys, gadgets, and instruments he takes with him from city to city. This tour, he’s been traveling with a whole guitar store – literally. His stage set-up has been a giant wall, guitars mounted side by side from one end of the stage to the other. There’s a cash register and even one of those little clocks that says "We’ll Be Back In…" and before Keller went on, his roadie came out and set the time. Sure enough, at 8:40, the time on the clock, he came out to play.
Keller hopped from instrument to instrument, playing a set heavy on choice covers like Van Morrison’s "Moondance," Nirvana’s "Come As You Are" and "Lithium" – that latter of which was light-years better than the Disco Biscuits’ version played in the same building two years ago – and The Talking Heads’ "Burning Down The House."
However, the stand-out song of the first set, and possibly the night, was a fabulously delicate take on the Dead’s "Wharf Rat," played sans loop on the piano. Keller nailed the song, and his piano work was shockingly great.
All told, the show was a strong one, and the crowd showed strong support despite the challenge many took on to get downtown in the harsh elements.
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