Richard Buckner played the Bowery Ballroom last night, September 20, in New York City. He was playing before Erich Bachmann of Crooked Fingers. I know, I know. Buckner is an opening act? I thought the same thing. But hey, I left my curiosity at the door, so I suppose you can too. I was there last night to see a Richard Buckner show. Nothing more, nothing less. Well, I guess something more. He's Richard Buckner. That voice... oh that voice.
Richard Buckner sort of looks like Neil Young on stage; if you've been watching Ovation as of late and seen the Neil Young concert that's constantly on, you'll know what I mean. Although Richard Buckner probably eats people like Neil Young as a pre-show snack. It's not his size that makes him such a large presence. It's that voice. His deep raspy voice trembles and soothes, knocks you over the head, picks you back up, and then does it over and over. That voice, oh that voice.
Buckner played the hour long set with Doug Gillard, from some band called Guided By Voices. Never heard of 'em. Gillard is one hell of a guitar player, but it was the songs that Buckner took on himself that were the highlight. Buckner never once talked in between the songs, instead letting a looped guitar do the talking. It added to his mystery, his sense of being a man brought up on the range. Songs like "Souvenir," "Believer," "10 Day Room," and "Ed's Song," or "Town," from his latest brilliant album, Meadow, made me believe that there is pretty much nothing that I'd rather do on a Wednesday night than listen to that man. That voice, oh that voice.
Buckner ended with "Fater," from Devotion & Doubt. On record the song sounds as if he's singing at his campfire. No guitar, no harmonica; Just him, his horse, a campfire, and the open plain. It's beautiful. Last night Buckner added a looped guitar and some feedback and turned the song from an a cappella hymn into somewhat of an anthem. It was a beautiful twist on an already beautiful song. What a show. That voice, oh that voice.
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