Railroad Earth performing at The Pabst Theater on 02.05.22 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
photo by DeWook
This weekend was a busy one - two nights with Railroad Earth. I haven’t toured with Railroad Earth since March of 2020. It felt great to be back out with these talented musicians. During the shows, I ran into a bunch of friends I haven’t seen in a while. Jessica Bivins and I met at Summer Stomp in 2021. We both said Hello and she explained how excited she was to see Railroad Earth. Fast forward to Sunday night and after meeting her once again, she told me she’d written a review of the show and asked me to give it a read. I enjoyed her perspective so much I asked her if I could include it with a mini forward in my column. She obviously said yes. So, without another wasted moment I give you my friend Jessica Bivins review of the Railroad Earth show on 02.05.22 at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
By Jessica Bivins
Andy told me once with a humble chuckle his job was to fill the spaces between notes and fill, he did! It’s been tough for me to return to the Railroad scene since Andy’s death but last night in Milwaukee, being his birthday and all, felt right. The timing I mean tour closer, Andy’s birthday, pandemic debut tour.
The boys came in hot with ‘Walk Beside Me’ and the crowd started to groove, singing and dancing to that Altman deep-funky bass line. Railroad Earth lifted the crowd higher with ‘Seven Story Mountain’ and put us in a hoe-down frenzy with ‘Dandelion Wine’ and ‘Grandfather Mountain’ stopped me in my tracks. The room was so full of magic by the crescendo that tears flowed down my face and I realized as the music filled that room that THIS is the new arrangement of Railroad Earth. With Mike and Matt filling all of the spaces the set closed with ‘Where Songs Begin’, which has always been a favorite of mine because I get lost in the song thinking about the muse who visits the artist to provide spark to create a song. This time though, that muse was wild, powerful and strong as the song hit a whole new level. I can’t wait to hear the new album to see where that muse has guided our boys!
Second set was absolutely tight and hot, note after note. The crowd was taken through peaks and valleys into the darkest underworld and through celestial brightness, and that was just ‘Captain Nowhere’. ‘Great Divide’ was played as a tribute to Andy, Happy Birthday buddy! Then, straight into ‘Mourning Flies’ which is so dark and so lovely with that six-winged creature and Skehan’s mando crescendo. I love the way he does that, puts each fan on the head of a pin like an angel balancing and shimmering in the spotlight. Yes, please. Carry me.
Bam! ‘RV’ The crowd is dancing their hearts out and singing along! Then, ‘Warhead Boogie’ kept it moving with Carey’s strong rhythm and carried the laughter of playing with ‘Poseidon’ in the tub to the depths of war and despair. Damn, Rayyyy-Road. I’ve missed you so. Timmie closed out the second set with his electric guitar and everyone singing along and dancing to ‘Hard Living’. It felt like confirmation this pandemic has sucked for all of us.
This HAS been some hard living but maybe, just maybe, we get to start enjoying one another again. Maybe we get to sing and dance and have hope for our future. Maybe it’s All for the Song. Such a perfect song to close out the tour. Todd’s heartfelt peaceful words sending us on our way. Until next time.
Railroad Earth has become something new with the addition of Mike and Matt. There’s something special happening y’all. Those spaces are getting filled with graceful, light-fingered banjo picking, some country slide twang and a whole lot of extraterrestrial groove funk!
See you down the road on the rail my beautiful hobo brothers and sisters.
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