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February 14 - Ann Arbor, MI - Michigan Theater

by John Van Leur

The concert was staged at the old Michigan Theatre near the campus of the Michigan University in the college town of Ann Arbor. Although the venue was held in this college town, it seemed like most in the audience were long past their college days. They came from all around the state from the medium size cities of Flint, Saginaw, and Jackson as well as the big city of Detroit. Matthew ran the PETA booth in the lobby which was stocked with more literature than I had ever seen at a booth before. He hoped that his back-up would arrive so he could catch part of the show and had his fingers crossed that he would get backstage to meet the band.

All Mighty Senators opened the night and put on a high energy show that was well received by the crowd. Front man Landis pounded the drums and sang powerful vocals in a wide octave range from the center of the stage. The band rocked for around forty minutes before closing without an encore. They open for the Pretenders for the remainder of the tour so try to arrive early as their act is definitely one to catch.

After about twenty-five minutes, the house lights dimmed and the band walked on the stage accompanied by some 2001ish musical intro and then promptly rocked into " Lie to Me " from the new Loose Screws CD. The set appeared to closely mirror the set list of the Florida shows reviewed elsewhere on this web site. The notable addition was " Time the Avenger " which Chrissie explained was for the nostalgic members of the audience. Adam kicked ass on this number as he did the entire night and his spin on the old hits just makes this great band even better. After his solo on " My City was Gone ", the applause and roar of the crowd drownded out the beginning of Chrissie's closing verse. His stage presence continues to improve with each passing tour but without the flambouance and theatrics of Townsend and Richard but with playing that is unsuppassed by either of them. The passion that he brings to the new songs is evident in every chord but the only drawback is he didn't give himself enough solo play. He makes up for it by making the old songs his own and Chrissie has given him wide berth to let him just wail. When they stand together on " Mystery Achievement " striking the same chords, it was simply awesome.

The band never sounded better and it was great to hear them play a complete set, instead of the much too short opening sets like they did for the Stones, Neil Young and the B-52s. How they ever could have opened for the B-52s is beyond my comprehension. Andy was exceptional, as always, laying down his powerful bass line on " City " and " Mystery Achievement ". He's even been given more vocals and Chrissie encourages him to lead the clap along during " My Baby " with a " go get "em, Big Guy " as Andy claps his hands high over his head. Andy just keeps laying down that relentless bass and seems to be enjoying himself more than ever. I wonder if there is an instrument that Zeb cannot play. It seems like every tour, he's bringing out something new like whatever he brought out on "Complex Person ". Unfortunely, the band didn't do " Thin Line " or " Hymn to Her " so we didn't get to hear his great work on those numbers. but just watching him play all those different instruments is amazing. Martin was his usual madman self behind the drums and his driving beat moved every song along their powerful courses. His kick start of " Middle of the Road " had the crowd up before thje first guitar chord was struck. Chrissie set up " The Losing " by kidding Martin about his good fortune at the casino in Connecticut. As good as Adam is on the guitar, Martin is every bit his equal on the drums but, of course, we always knew that.

Chrissie expressed her views about the upcoming war pretty vividly and her message appeared to be received with mixed reviews as did her comment that all sports teams in Michigan sucked which is true anyway. She lamented the fact that she got no flowers for Valentine's Day and I kicked myself hard for forgetting the mental note I had made to bring her flowers prior to the show. She rocked hard all night refusing to give the crowd the "classic rock " they clamored for until the end of the show. She mixed in about six new songs with classics like " Up the Neck ", "Talk of the Town " and " Message of Love ". They closed the set with " Night in My Veins " and "Precious ". The first encore opened with " I'ii Stand By You " and closed with " Middle of the Road '. Then they closed out with the tremendous encore of "The Wait", "Mystery Achievement " and " Brass in Pocket ". I have heard that she's tired of doing "Brass" which she must have done about a million times but I never saw her do it better than on Valentine's Day in Ann Arbor. And I don't recall seeing the band perform better, that is, until I saw them in Chicago the next night but more on that later..

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