Concert Review: Justin Furstenfeld at Beachland Ballroom




When Blue October singer-guitarist Justin Furstenfeld decided to call his current tour “An Open Book,” he sure wasn’t kidding. Over the course of nearly two hours last night at the Beachland Ballroom, he delved into all the details from his past, confessing to cheating on his then-girlfriend with the woman who would become his wife and discussing his battles with drug addiction. The format suited him well and made for an engaging performance.

The concert started very formally as Furstenfeld’s roadie/handler came out and warned against heckling during the show. He was serious, too, as he regularly worked his way through the crowded room during the set to hush any one who spoke above a whisper. Fans were on their best behavior, however, and the ballroom grew hauntingly quiet as Furstenfeld arrived on stage and began reading from the book of lyrics he’s published. He started at the beginning, recounting how he quit his high school band after the other members’ parents called a meeting to discuss the content of his lyrics. “I decided right then that I would never let anyone tell me what I could and couldn’t say from the stage,” he said before playing an acoustic rendition of “Black Orchid,” the song that got him into so much trouble with his band mates. Though overwrought, the somber tune had a certain power when delivered in an acoustic format and Furstenfeld’s soaring vocals sounded sharp.

Furstenfeld then went through the band’s catalogue album by album and detailed all the break-ups and drama that took place behind the scenes. At one point, he put down his guitar to read a mean-spirited and hate-filled poem that he wrote to his ex-wife after she had taken custody of their daughter. “I’m embarrassed by that poem,” he said after reading it. “That’s not something a father should say. But I can’t take it back.” The warts-and-all approach made it hard to dislike Furstenfeld, even if some of the songs sounded too grandiose and self-involved.

To lighten the mood, however, he answered questions that audience members had turned in before the concert. The questions ranged from which of the Garbage Pail Kids was favorite (answer: Disgustin’ Justin) to what would be his dream concert (answer: Peter Gabriel with The Smiths and The Cure opening). Furstenfeld only played about 12 songs over the course of the concert but he deftly balanced storytelling and singing and still managed to work in audience favorites such as “Hate Me,” which he described as an apology, and “Not Broken Anymore,” the set closer that suggested he might be ready to move on from the sad and somber tunes in the band’s back catalogue.

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