Submitted by Linda Renc (who also supplied the photo):
We arrived about 1/2
hour before showtime, hoping this stately theatre would fill up with fans,
which it did by 8:10 pm. Originally part of a hotel built
in 1817 with hauntings to prove it, the theatre just reopened this summer
after major renovations. The Bijou now has red plush seats, restored cream & gold
woodwork and very nice acoustics. The elegant setting added a level of respect
from the audience (except one guy who was asked to leave; he exited during
Tell The Universe and I don't know if Bruce was relieved but we were). Odd,
because this hulky guy didn't seem the type to be offended by the "S" word!
The band worked seamlessly with Bruce through both sets, and I found myself watching Julie Wolf wondering what unusual instrument she would produce next. Much of it is on the new album, and she lends a wide range of keyboard effects, especially violins which of course are the real thing on the album. Julie's frequent backup vocals add a nice layer to Bruce's, but instrumentally she's a wonderful asset. Her organ, piano & mysterious moog-y stuff swirls around the melodies and carries you off. We liked seeing all the chimes & bells in the drum set and Gary Craig used them all without overdoing it; they add to the timeless feel of Bruces's new material. Years ago Bruce would just give the chimes a kick in the middle of a guitar solo... look how far we've come from those days.
As for Bruce, what fabulous guitar work, you just sit there and become mesmerized with masterpieces like The End Of All Rivers. His band's sets are tight, even the intentionally off-rhythm, atonal solos which he & Julie traded off in Slow Down Fast. The audience appreciated everything he had to offer. Bruce was pleasantly talkative with any political references kept to a minimum, letting the songs speak for themselves. Some folks were calling "BRUUUCE" and he noted that BRUUUCE sounds a lot like BOOOOZE... and he thought he might sit around after the show & holler "BOOOOZE" and see what it got him.
Even though I wished for a couple more oldies like Wondering Where The Lions Are to engage the audience (which he did on last year's Speechless tour) this entire concert reflected the sophisticated sounds of his Life Short Call Now album. I confess I held off buying the CD until the night of the concert and wasn't sure of the title of their last encore, so if anyone from Knoxville knows that last piece he played, correct me, willya? thanks...