As frontmen go, Ben Bridwell is pretty unassuming. The Band of Horses singer and guitarist spent the first couple songs of Friday’s sold-out concert at the Beachland Ballroom sitting down, while the rest of the group – expanded to a sextet on this tour – stood stoically in place. Bridwell eventually got rid of the chair, but that was about as far as stage movement went. This isn't a terribly active group. (If that's your deal, you might have enjoyed the recent Wyclef show)
But Bridwell and Co. are a compelling live act. ...
Their 90-minute set was filled with songs from last year’s Cease to Begin and 2006’s self-titled debut. Favorites like “No One’s Gonna Love You" (featured above), “Funeral,” and “Is There a Ghost?” were delivered pretty much as they are on record: flawlessly, languidly, and just short of jam-band-y (all that’s missing are the solos; Band of Horses don’t believe in them). “Weed Party” – which showed up about halfway through the set – says it all.
While revelations were infrequent, the pitch-black stage and Bridwell’s “the world is such a wonderful place” mantra in “Ode to LRC” certainly created a mood. If anything, Band of Horses exposed themselves as a classic rock band, one that could have come from the ’70s (those Neil Young comparisons aren’t far off). This was most obvious during the night’s last two songs, a pair of covers: “Effigy” (one of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s worst songs; Uncle Tupelo used to do this one too) and “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day” (one of Chicago’s better songs; is there a Chicago renaissance in the near future?). Like everything else Band of Horses play, they were irony-free, laid-back, and graced with just a hint of melancholy. -- Michael Gallucci