Railroad Earth at the Ogden, 1/18/13
Eric Gruneisen John Skehan of Railroad Earth on stage at the Ogden Theatre in Denver. Slide show: Railroad Earth at the Ogden
RAILROAD EARTH @ OGDEN THEATRE | 1/18/13
It started with a slow, purposeful beat from drummer Carey Harmon, followed by a careful fiddle line from Tim Carbone and a rapid round of banjo picking by Andy Goessling. And then mandolinist John Skehan had his turn in the solo spotlight, and from there, plenty of instrumental interplay between the members of Railroad Earth continued before the venture finally formalized into a rendition of "Head." It was just one of the band's lengthy and multi-layered renditions at the Ogden Theatre, and the capacity crowd showed plenty of patience. They hung on every note, every solo and every pause before guitarist and vocalist Todd Sheaffer finally started singing. As he broke into a spirited round of "Ooohs" to introduce lyrics about flying and trying to turn on his own head, fans followed his lead, offering a resonant chorus.
That back-and-forth between complex, dizzying instrumentals and singable, accessible anthems was a constant feature of Railroad Earth's lengthy set on the first of a three-night stint at the Ogden and the debut performance of the group's 2013 winter tour. During a performance broken into two parts that went well past midnight, the band offered the frenzied crowd plenty of different sounds.
Eric Gruneisen Slide show: Railroad Earth at the Ogden
At times, the performance felt like an old-fashioned bluegrass hootenanny, with the band breaking into fiddle-based reels in 2/4 time that would have fit an Appalachian porch performance from the turn of the century. Other moments were much more progressive, with the sextet delving into odd time signatures, unorthodox musical structures and lengthy jams.
Continue reading for more from the show.