War on Drugs' Big Sound Succeeds at House of Blues

Concert Review


The last time the War on Drugs ran through Cleveland they played the Grog Shop, which is a fine rock 'n' roll venue if there ever was one, but the thing about Adam Granduciel's Philadelphia-bred band is that their sound is HUGE. Too huge, really, for the Grog.

The House of Blues boasts a difficult layout, but at least the ceiling opens up and allows sound to fill out the room. If you were up in the pit for the War on Drugs show Friday night, you lucked out and caught an amazing set of music.

The band opened with "Burning" and went on from there to touch on classics ("Arms Like Boulders" among others) and the bulk of their newish album, Lost in the Dream. "Under the Pressure," the album's lead-off track, evolved into a very intense jam on the back end. 

Probably the best song on that album is "An Ocean In Between the Waves," and the band did that one justice about midway through the show. Via that tune and others, it became clear — even clearer than on any album — that the War on Drugs are tapped into the heart of rock 'n' roll. They write and perform epics. Granduciel's lyrics dig into the core of his personality, all flawed and mangled, and produce an introspective odyssey that most of us can relate to.

The soaring guitar work just makes it all the more vivid.

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