A couple of years ago I covered Ike Reilly and the Assassination at First Avenue not knowing much (honestly I thought the band name was cool, so I picked that particular show that night) and left the show having a few of his songs stuck in my head and a new appreciation for his music. So when I saw his name on the Icehouse’s calendar, I simply had to be at last night’s show.
Opening was Gabriel Douglas, the lead singer of the4onthefloor. I had seen him a couple of times with his band and a solo performance with a backup band a few weeks ago. This time it was just Gabe, his guitar and a few pedals. This is a quite different feel from his usual vibe. He is quite bluesy but still true to his rock roots. His cover of Alan Sparhawk’s “Breaker” was great. Texting with one of our writers who was covering another show, she asked me of my impression. My response “Sensitive Lumberjack”, behind his impressive beard there is an artist who can slow things down. Between songs short stories about songs and videos kept the mood light.
Ike Reilly took the stage just by himself with a guitar and a set of harmonicas to suite any occasion. Seeing him performing a stripped down set was a unique experience. And I was not the only one looking forward to it; looking and the audience and judging by the snippets of conversation overheard from tables there were some serious musicians and music fans in the room.
This was a very intimate set, with some songs I was not familiar with at all that are probably going to be on a future album. The lyrics became more prominent to me with the the “distraction” of a full band “Golden Showers from Golden Towers” and “The limpest biscuit of them all, took my money at the door” made me laugh and I was far from the only one. There was a song dedicated to a soccer mom in Reilly’s hometown who was offended by the Black Lives Matter movement. So Reilly wrote her a song and promptly performed it at his kids’ school. Paired with the smaller size venue, it felt like a personal performance and Reilly’s interaction with the audience was priceless. Shouted requests for “Duty Free” were countered with “I don’t think so. I need my dress up clothes for that”. But he did play “Commie Drives A Nova” with a shout out to local DJ Shelley Miller in the audience, who was the first to play that song.
All in all, this was a show special to me by an artist I have come to admire. And Ike seemed to have as much fun as his fans.