Sunday, October 19, 2008

Music: Joan Osborne with Matt Morris At The Whiskey Roadhouse

On Saturday the Wife and I went to the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa to hear one of our favorite singers: Joan Osborne.  To make it even better, it was a free concert.  I couldn't believe this at first.  They charge admission for other concerts but this particular one, the one we were interested in, was free.  Over the past few weeks I kept going back to the website to confirm that yes, it was free.  Cool.
We arrived early planning to eat and possibly gamble before the concert.  We had a good dinner at JB's Cafe before weaving our way through the beep, boop, cling, clang of the slot machines to the Whiskey Roadhouse.  We noticed that a line had started to form so we decided to skip the gambling and got in line (Sorry Mom, I didn't play your money).
They opened the door a half hour later and everyone rushed in to get a good seat.  We'd never been there before and we were a little slow but we managed to get a table about 20 feet from the stage with a clear view.  There are some nice padded benches along the walls that would have been better - next time.
For the next hour and a half we drank, talked, and watched the characters in the crowd.  You had the deadhead in tie-die (Joan Osborne travelled and performed with the Grateful Dead) and the dude in the sky blue suit with alligator panel accents and cowboy hat who for the life of me reminded me of a bad Fred Willard character.
At 8:00, Matt Morris took the stage.  I'd never heard him before.  He was okay.  He had a good singing voice with an impressive range.  He accompanied his singing with a acoustic guitar for most of his songs with a couple done with a keyboard.  While I was impressed by his potential, his music was mediocre in my opinion.  His rendition of the Beatle's "Help" had a very lounge singer feel too it.  It reminded me of Bill Murray's Saturday Night Live lounge singer skits.  The venue didn't help him either.  The Whiskey Roadhouse is a bar and the background chatter, the football games on the big screens, and the sound of the slot machines were not friendly to his acoustic style.  To me, it was very distracting.
Joan Osborne and her band came on at 9:00.  The room was packed with a lot of people standing in the back by the Bar and all the tables full.  She was AWESOME.  She blew me away.  She has this bluesy voice and style that just works.  She preformed songs from her first album, "Relish" and from her new album "Little Wild One".  I was very impressed.  I'd expected a small set from a free concert but she sang for an hour and fifteen minutes and then came out for a fifteen minute encore.  Matt Morris joined her for one duet that worked very well.  The encore was two covers: "Please Don't Tell Me How The Story Ends" (I think but I can't seem to remember for sure - memory is a little foggy) and Motown's "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted".  The band overcame the background chatter with ease and really rock and rolled the joint.
A comment about fans our age.  The Wife asks, why, when dancing, do they look like they're either doing their aerobic routines or are doing P.E. calisthenics?  A mystery.  (We, of course, look cool.)
We both left feeling great.  The concert was much better than we expected and we felt totally entertained and satisfied.  It hit the spot.  I ended up with a T-Shirt and a copy of her new CD.
So, to sum it up:
  • Matt Morris: C+ for good vocals, mediocre song choice, and bad fit for the venue.
  • Joan Osborne: A for great vocals, great song choice, and good fit for the venue.
  • Whiskey Roadhouse: B- for a great intimate venue with too much background chatter.

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