This Fall, Craig Finn and John K Samson have teamed up to play a series of intimate venues all across the US and back up into Canada in support of their recent solo records and so, last Saturday evening, two of music’s most literary storytellers pulled into Atlanta, GA for an intimate show at City Winery.
“Hi, I’m John K Samson, talk-singing-Marxist-Quaker from Canada”
Samson’s latest record, Winter Wheat, came out last October and like his work with The Weakerthans and his first solo record, it’s full of eloquently told stories of everyday characters like bored commuters, frustrated lovers, and their hopes for new beginnings with reflective glances over their shoulders, all delivered via the narrative of Samson’s everyman voice. Samson started off with “One Great City!”, an ode to his hometown which speaks to the notion of familiarity breeding content, with the song’s refrain, “I hate Winnipeg.” From there the set bounced between songs off the new record including, “Post-Doc Blues”, “Winter Wheat”, and “17th Street Treatment Centre” and a number of songs from his work with The Weaherthans, like the heartbreaking, “Left and Leaving” and a trilogy of songs about Virtute the cat – “Plea From A Cat Named Virtute”, “Virtute The Cat Explains Her Departure” and finally “Virtute At Rest”, from Winter Wheat.
“We all want the same things.”
Craig Finn and the Uptown Controllers took the stage after a short break and slid right into “God in Chicago”, one of the most descriptive tunes off Craig’s new solo record, We all Want the Same Things. Those familiar with Craig’s work with The Hold Steady know what to expect from a new record from Finn. A beat-poet driven geographical tour with characters trying to get by and come to terms with their decisions, and the acceptance of their fates, but what never ceases to amaze me is how he’s able to inject fresh life into each one of these stories and their physical and emotional geography. Focusing exclusively on his solo work tonight, Finn and the band set a mood and ripped it apart with every song, pulling you in close for a whispered comment and pushing you back away with a shove.
At his most effective, with a notebook of characters in his back pocket and a Les Paul around his neck there were times tonight that he couldn’t be touched. “Maggie I’ve Been Searching for Our Son”, “Nassau Coliseum” and the first encore “Birds Trapped in the Airport” were just on fire.
Closing out the night, John K returned to the stage for a wonderful duet of Gillian Welch’s song, “Wrecking Ball”.
Check out John McNicholas’ photos from the show:
Craig Finn Setlist
God in Chicago
Maggie I’ve Been Searching for Our Son
Jester & June
Birds Trapped in the Airport
Wrecking Ball (Gillian Welch cover)
Live from the YouTube’s:
John K Samson Setlist
One Great City!
Confessions Of A Futon-Revolutionist
Left and Leaving
17 Street Recovery Center
Plea From A Cat Named Virtute
Virtute The Cat Explains Her Departure
Virtute At Rest