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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

John Wesley Harding @ The Triple Door

posted by on July 18 at 11:32 AM


I’d rather not gripe about menu prices at The Triple Door—they’re not scraping satay and scallops off the floor, obviously. But as British songwriter (and former Seattle resident) John Wesley Harding took the stage and announced that Tuesday evening’s show was being streamed online for free, I just about spit out my $8 sake. I didn’t know this gig was BYOB! Well, Bring Your Own Bandwidth, anyway.

His immediate response was fitting: “Don’t know if any of you have been on the Internet.” This wasn’t merely one of his nonsensical between-song comments; the man knew how many 40-something, Hawaiian shirt-wearing fuddy-duddies had crowded the house, still clinging to Harding’s mid-’90s heyday. The 41-year-old played into the old crowd’s hands with endless bouts of banter; though stories about Japan and “Stairway to Heaven” were amusing enough, the ceaseless chatter made fellow Brit-popsters like Robyn Hitchcock seem absolutely stoic in comparison.

Worse, he appeased this crowd with a mixed set list, eschewing much of his wittier and saltier songwriting for sappy fan favorites like “Our Lady of the Highways” (a two-guy duet that—oh, come on—ended in a hug). A few new songs made up for the slack, including an expectedly dry ode to self-delusion: “What gets you from point A to B? / Does it start with a capital G-O-D?” (Don’t worry, churchies—Harding immediately followed this line with a kazoo solo, keeping the anxious fogeys at bay.) But even though he channeled the younger vocal stylings of Elvis Costello with a honeyed voice that crowded the room, this was no grand, Bumbershoot-level set. Lest I forget that point, the woman behind me reinforced it with thumbs jammed firmly in her ears during a freaking acoustic guitar solo. Should’ve watched the concert from your WebTV, Frieda.

Thank G-O-D for opener Alela Diane. The Nevada City, CA native played the Triple Door only a month prior with the Grass Roots Record Co. Summer Revue, but that set was cut short by the Triple Door’s strict clock. Tuesday, she had all the time she needed to perform her gorgeous brand of pastoral folk, and her bold, unwavering voice recalled the subdued glory of Karen Dalton. After the jump, enjoy our own streaming video of Diane. BYOB.

Hell, here's a solid clip of Harding as well:

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