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The Old 97's stormed into the Abbey like an alt-country Ramones, with a blitzkrieg 50-minute assault on the ears of a packed house. Scheduled as a KPRI promotion, their abbreviated set served to whet the appetite and ensure a sell-out for their Belly Up show the following evening.

The 97’s are known for their all-out performances and this snippet did not disappoint. Led by Rhett Miller, the quartet launched a four-month tour to support their new release, The Grand Theatre, Volume One. The performance showcased a number of cuts from this live-without-an-audience recording, most notably "Champaign, Illinois" (Miller's rewrite of Dylan's "Desolation Row") and "Every Night Is Friday Night (Without You)." With his rock-star appeal ("Rhett looked so much cuter than both the other times I saw him," opines Sue Stravinsky), lead vocalist Miller provides a visual focus for the band, supported amply by bassist-vocalist Murry Hammond, scorching lead-guitarist Ken Bethea, and frenetic drummer Phillip Peeples. Other highlights included "West Texas Teardrops," sung by Hammond, "Doreen," and the double encore of "Murder or a Heart Attack" and "Timebomb." Actually, just about every tune they played was memorable.

  • Concert: The Old 97's
  • Date: January 18
  • Venue: The Abbey
  • Seats: 8th row, just off center
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