Balloon drops, Bob Seger covers, The War On Drugs brought a birthday bash with An Evening Of Live Drugs at the Palace Theatre in St. Paul on Tuesday night. Out supporting I Don’t Live Here Anymore, Tuesday nights show was the first of a 2 night stand at the Palace.
The War On Drugs have been around awhile. When they came together in 2005 in Philadelphia, Kurt Vile was on of the original members, raising the cool factor substantially. They released their first studio album, Wagonwheel Blues, in 2008. Kurt left the band soon after, but the cool factor remained strong. # years later the band released Slave Ambient and 3 years later released Lost In The Dream. Each release saw the bands star rising higher and higher. Critical adulation was pouring in and tours got bigger and bigger. The buzz was noticed by Atlantic Records, the band became a six piece and they released arguably their biggest record A Deeper Understanding. (Yup, that’s 3 years after the last release, I see a pattern here). That release garnered them a Grammy and showered them with more critical adulation( this writer included, one of my 10 desert isle recordings). I Don’t Live Here Anymore dropped in 2021(so much for the 3 year cycle) and that dang covid thing paused touring for the release until now.
It really was An Evening Of Live Drugs, there was no opener. The house lights went down right around 8:45 and for the next 2 hours The War On Drugs took the packed Palace crowd on a nostalgic journey woven through with sounds familiar and new. The band eased into the evening with “Old Skin” off their latest release. It had the feel of a River era Springsteen tune. There were 6 musicians on stage, but they blended perfectly, no member stepped on the other. The sound was awesome, deep, rich and massive, if you closed your eyes, you would have thought you were in an arena. Then into “Pain”, whoa, sound turned into agony, the guitar distraught and agitated, a freaking masterpiece.
The show was no sizzle, all steak, with no elaborate light show the music was on showcase. “An Ocean in Between The Waves” brought the tempo up several notches. “I Don’t Want To Wait” was just so good live, so many layers of sound blended together and flowed like molten lava. The Dylanesque “Thinking Of A Place” just wreaked of inspiration, and with “Living Proof” and “I Don’t Live Here Anymore” would make the perfect soundtrack for a road trip. Hell, the entire 2 hour show could be the perfect soundtrack for a road trip. First they teased “Night Moves”, then Adam Granduciel said “its my birthday, we’re gonna play some fucking Bob Seger”! I love a kick ass cover, and the boys didn’t disappoint when they broke out “Against The Wind”
Inspirational, emotional, nostalgic, authentic; I could list a bunch of adjectives here and still couldn’t articulate the special place in one’s soul that The War On Drugs touches. It moves you deeply, and everyone at the Palace on Tuesday night was grateful for the ride.
Setlist: Old Skin – Pain – An Ocean Between The Waves – Change – I Don’t Wanna Wait – Victim – Strangest Thing – Harmonia’s Dream – Red Eyes – Against The Wind – Wasted – Living Proof – I Don’t Live Here Anymore – Oceans Of Darkness – Disappearing – Under The Pressure – Eyes To The Wind
Encore: Thinking Of A Place – Occasional Rain