By our good friend Carly:
So it’s taken me about a week to write up this review for the show I caught here in Richmond, VA, because I want to be as honest as possible while still conveying my serious love and appreciation for the Brothers and their music. I’m not shy about saying that I’m possibly a little too enthusiastic about the Felice Brothers. I’ve seen them live eight times now, as far and wide as Raleigh NC to Albany NY, and along the way I’ve been fortunate enough to shake their hands, bake them pies, talk with them, all that. It was so great to be able to see them in my hometown, bring out several of my close friends from the area (“you guys can FINALLY see the Felice Brothers live with practically NO effort, it’s gonna be awesome, come onnn!!”), and so it may have been a case of elevated expectations that left me feeling a little disappointed, or it may have been the show itself. Let me explain.
I got to the National about twenty minutes before the official show start time, and the place was pretty empty (keep in mind this place is HUGE). To me, that’s both a good and bad thing—more space to dance around and get crazy, but fewer people being exposed to this awesome music. A friend and I had brought some treats for the band, and we handed them off to Brendan (I think I read somewhere in a recent post someone call him “Brandon” but it’s Brendan) and then found a good place on the floor. I ran into Suzanne and Miryam, who I had met at the Trocadero in Philly last month, and they were as pumped as I was about the show we were about to watch.
They opened with a new song, which was cool, but didn’t do a lot to bring up the energy in the crowd. Ditto with Helen Frye. As I’m mentioned before I LOVE their new song Marie, but they didn’t pull it off as well as I’ve seen it before, appearing to have a little trouble with cues and deciding who was supposed to sing when, etc. I also love Greatest Show on Earth but with its slow ramp-up it too was keeping the energy of the crowd a little bit low. Then they turned it up briefly with Run Chicken Run, and back down again with Hey Hey Revolver, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen live before and I really enjoyed. Then again the energy was turned up, though not sky-high, with Loves me Tenderly, then muffled back down again with Marlboro Man, Chicken Wire, Goddamn You Jim, and Ahab. This long lull (don’t get me wrong—I really enjoy their slower/more intense songs but usually as a foil to their rollicking barn-burners) was almost balanced with White Limo, Whiskey, and the new song, but before things could get too crazy Farley brought things back down to lukewarm and by that point the beauty, somberness, and soul of Let Me Come Home was dampened by the already sort of low-energy roll that the night was on.
The encore, then, was a really great rendition of The Boy From Lawrence County and then piled high with a sort of crazy energy that to me seemed sort of forced: Swine Flu (which apparently is sort of interchangeable in this slot with Two Hands) and Penn Station, both of which are really great songs, but something about it just didn’t ring true to me. Overall, this show felt even more tired than Raleigh, and with weird technical glitches and the un-talked-about absences of their former-new-drummer, Dave, and what I would call a lackluster setlist (sorry guys), it just wasn’t the same awesome time as it usually was.