It would be impossible to review Todd Snider's Irving Plaza show without mentioning the magnitude of how fantastic his new album is. If Todd Snider is not nominated for at least 1 Grammy for "Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables", we are all living a horrible lie. On it, he's backed by a full Rock band that are like, the fucking BALLS of this record, and includes Amanda "Pearl" Shires on a haunting violin and backup vocals that tie a perfect bow on the sound. Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables is a down and dirty Blues Rock Alt Country record that is kind of an absurdist's look at living life in the dying American Dream.
The introduction, In The Beginning, is a Preacher pulling you into a sermon about Religion and the division between and struggle for control amongst The Have's & Have Nots, the narration is backed by a building Rock beat. It sets the tone. Think the Prince Intro on Let's Go Crazy, but without all the eye makeup. By the end of the second song, New York Banker, you will find your blood boiling and your hands clenching into involuntarily fists. Snider chants, "good things happen to bad people!" TELL IT, Todd! There's a great cover of Jimmy Buffett's West Nashville Ballroom. Precious Little Miracles is a lovely little ditty about those crazy kids today, and how they wear their pants low, their hats crooked, and walk around trying to kill people for the thrill of it. The Very Last Time is an adorable little tune about heartbreak. In Between Jobs is my new Theme Song. It's dark, truthful, soulful, and it definitely speaks to me (I'm a Freelancer). He captures the frustration perfectly. "I know how mad I'm getting just knowin' how much more you got than me, I'm thinking, what's keeping me from killin' this guy… taking his shit." I can dig it. Brenda, is a catchy song about true love. More specifically, it's about the true love between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Too Soon To Tell is a lyrical masterpiece that dives right back deep into the haunting darkness. "They say living well is the best revenge, I say bullshit, the best revenge is revenge. This isn't over, we're going to meet again.", "I want to trust you buddy, but you're clearly keeping secrets from me.", "You too will wake up one morning with a lot more memories than dreams", "Don't give up on me baby, I think I could be losing my mind." It's so good I could bathe in it. Digger Dave's Crazy Woman Blues is about Todd's good friend Digger Dave, from Homer, Alaska, who made the mistake of letting a crazy woman named Christine into his house. Todd calls it the truest song he's ever written and says that he never did approve of that woman. Big Finish, takes stock of one's place. "It ain't the despair that gets you, it's the hope" (a quote apparently from music industry pioneer Bob Mercer who may have stolen it from Oscar Wilde).
And the reason the Irving Plaza show could not be reviewed without first taking a look at this brilliant album, is because the tone and energy of the album carried itself all the way to Irving Plaza and exploded inside it. I've only ever seen Snider solo-acoustic before, and after hearing the album, I had hoped there would be a band at this show so I could experience that awesome magic live. Well, there WAS a full band, all night, and it was way louder and awesomer than I thought was even possible. Todd Snider, dripping in sweat, spent much of the night on an electric guitar and absolutely BROUGHT IT as a Frontman. The show was gritty, passionate, and from the fucking gut.
All of the stuff from the new album translated beautifully and was incredibly exciting to hear live. The torture in his voice was cathartic and delicious. Whatever else he had imbibed in certainly gave it that friendly and personal touch that Todd Snider brings into every room. He invites you in-- pull up a chair if you'd like. He's just there to "ease his mind about everything", and hopefully he can entertain you along the way. Todd looked like he was having a blast and I can assure you that the crowd was too.
Hearing the classic tunes with the full band was an awesome treat. Highlights of those: The Devil You Know, Stuck On the Corner (Prelude To a Heart Attack), Alright Guy, and Conservative, Christian, Right-Wing Republican, Straight, White, American Males.
It was a triumphant show. That album is insanely good. He deserves some Grammies. I would recommend he put them on his amp, next to his collection of generic sporting trophies (I noticed one surfboard) that look like they were picked up at Goodwill or have been sacrificed by fans over the years, and all have the name "TODD" crudely scratched into their faux-marble bases.
Gritty, Passionate, Honest. He ELECTRIFIED that room. WOW! Todd Snider, 3/8/12, Irving Plaza, NYC: 9.9 HUZZAHS!!!! AMAZING.
In The Beginning
Too Soon to Tell
The Devil You Know
Precious Little Miracles
Lookin’ for a Job
Play a Train Song
Happy New Year
Digger Dave’s Crazy Woman Blues
In Between Jobs
Stuck On The Corner (Prelude to a Heart Attack)
The Ballad of Cape Henry
The Ballad of Kingsmen
Conservative, Christian, Right-Wing Republican, Straight, White, American Males
Mission Accomplished (Because You Gotta Have Faith)
** DOWNLOAD THE SHOW: http://www.toddsniderlive.com/?p=3217 **