Thursday, 21 July 2005

I’m not sure how, but a friend of mine discovered that Nickel Creek was having a special pre-release show for their new CD, Why Should the Fire Die? The show was being sponsored by a local radio station and was less than a week away.

Per must have called everyone; the radio station, the band’s management, and possibly the band’s parents, trying to get tickets. Around mid-week a friend of his, someone who works for Clear Channel, came through—big time.

The show was Monday evening and Per’s wife had someone visiting from out of town and couldn’t go. That left me in the fortunate position as his +1 on the guest list. Even though my mom and step-father were arriving from Kansas City that afternoon, but there was no way I was going to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity. I’ll admit, I felt a little guilty, but luckily my mom was understanding and didn’t make a big deal out of it.

It was my first time at Rossi’s Blue Star Room, so I didn’t really know what to expect. It’s billed as a Jazz club and turned out to be pretty small, seating maybe 200. That said, it really worked for an accoustic act like Nickel Creek and helped to add to the insider/exclusive vibe I was feeling.

We managed to get a table dead center, no more than 30 feet from the front. The sight-lines were perfect, short of sitting on the stage. When the band started at 1800, I could barely contain myself.

For the main part of the show they played the new album, in order, live. Like most CDs these days, some songs were better than others, but on the whole it was great. The show was enchanting, delightful, intimate, and super cool. My favorites were “When In Rome,” “Anthony,” and “Scotch and Chocolate.” The latter being a rock-out jam by way of acoustic folk. “Anthony” is great, with it’s lilting ukulele melody and Sara singing about a guy that ran away—the fool!

The new album has a couple tracks that sound almost like straight rock, but they show progression and still work in the context of their music. I love Sara’s voice, so I’m delighted that she sings on a few more tracks this time. “First and Last Waltz” is quite nice, and “Stumptown” kicks it bluegrass style.

Once they finished playing the new album, they went right into “Smootie Song” (my personal favorite from This Side), then took a quick break followed by a 5 or 6 song encore from from earlier releases.

The final set-list works out to “When in Rome,” “Somebody More Like You,” “Jealous of the Moon,” “Scotch & Chocolate,” “Can’t Complain,” “Tomorrow is a Long Time,” “Eveline,” “Stumptown,” “Anthony,” “Best of Luck,” “Doubting Thomas,” “First and Last Waltz,” “Helena,” “Why Should the Fire Die?,” “Smoothie Song.” After that, my memory gets a little hazy. I know they did “Up On Cripple Creek” (by The Band), and I think “House of Tom Bombadil,” “Reasons Why,” “The Fox,” “Green & Gray.” I’m not certain on those last few, and I know there are a couple missing, but at least it’s close.

After the show, Per and I hung around for a while hoping they’d come out and visit. About 15 minutes later, after most of the audience had left, we were rewarded. First Sara, then Chris, and finally Sean appeared and were kind enough to sign autographs and pose for pictures.

It was a bit weird leaving the club so early, just after eight. Returning to sunlit streets was a bit of a shock after spending the last few hours inside a dark club. That said, it was a damn fine evening and I can’t thank Per enough for the opportunity to experience it.