Live Review: Wovenhand at Mercury Cafe
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Better than: Most shows I’ve seen in the last decade.
After Wovenhand’s show, there was a guy sitting on a chair near the stage. His head was in his hands and when a girl asked if him he was all right, he looked up at her and said, “It’s just that the show was so fucking amazing.” He leaned back in his chair, looking completely exhausted.
There had to be others who shared the same experience. Wovenhand’s show was intensely visceral experience, so much so that it’s difficult to distill into words. At times, the music was so powerful it sent me into a trance-like state where my chest filled up and it was hard to breathe. By the end of the show I felt thoroughly drained, which rarely ever happens after a concert.
David Eugene Edwards has this captivating, enigmatic presence where it’s almost impossible not to get pulled into his world, which can be a dark and sorrowful place at times. But from that place came some remarkable music, from the opening song, “Cripplegate (Standing on Glass)” all the way through the band’s second encore song “Your Russia (Without Hands).”
With many of the songs, Edwards, drummer Ordy Garrison and former 16 Horsepower bassist Pascal Humbert, would start off subdued and then gradually ramp up the intensity into a swirling ball of immense energy, especially on “Tin Finger.” And when the dust settled after a song, Edwards would hit one of his effects pedals and play what sounded like a drone loop. Those eerie drones between the songs sort served as a thread that connected the songs to each other. There never seemed to be silence between the songs.
The band delved also into five songs from its brand new album, Ten Stones, including some potent takes on “Kicking Bird,” “Beautiful Axe” and “Not One Stone.” In addition to cuts from Mosaic, Blush Music and Consider the Birds, the Edwards added some fine slide guitar playing to 16 Horsepower’s “Horse Head Fiddle.”
There was magic sprinkled on those songs. Dark, powerful magic. And when Edwards gets you under his spell, man, you can feel it. Really feel it.
Personal bias: I saw 16 Horsepower quite a few times throughout the mid and late-’90s, but I’d have to say that this Wovenhand performance was much more powerful than any 16 Horsepower show I saw.
Random notes: Edwards played a circa 1887 mandolin-banjo on “Cripplegate” and “Kingdom of Ice.”
By the way: The band starts a two-month European tour in mid-November.