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Pete Yorn at The Constellation Room, Wednesday, April 22, 2015
You and Me Extended Tour :: California

There is nothing quite like the anticipation of a performance. The buzz filling the room that mixes with the cacophony of half-heard conversations, pre-show playlists, and the tease of lights going on and off that causes everyone to stop stirring and inhale collectively as we all wait to push forward when the show begins. In the midst of this controlled chaos and palpable impatience I stood wondering what song would start this all off.

What makes a good opening number? Some would argue that a “hit” should open and close a show. You know the kind of fan favorite that gets the audience to scream-sing-a-long until it feels like one big group sing. Others may lean me towards the slow build. Maybe starting off with a lesser known song, not quite a “deep track“, but perhaps an uncharted, but well received, track. Or, there is always the element of unexpected surprise, a song choice that gets everyone’s undivided attention and wide eyed wonder, without the inclination to sing out with the singer. For me, although I might favor the “big group sing” selection because of the energy it fuels and gives back to the stage (as a past theater performer I know that nothing quells nerves like positive audience response), the surprising opener is definitely my favorite.

Pete graciously stepped out on the stage, saying a friendly hello, grabbing a guitar and taking a seat, then he hit the room with an opener surprise. Kirsty Macoll’s They Don’t Know (also made famous by Tracey Ullman/used as her show’s theme song) was unexpected brilliance, reinterpreted perfectly by Pete in a way that made the song seem more like his than a cover. It was a mesmerizing first choice, which was well received, and had everyone held in rapt and complete engagement. He had our attention from the very start, and then took that attention and set it off with the next number, a “fan favorite” that caused that earlier mentioned scream-sing-a-long, with musicforthemorningafter’s Life on a Chain. With that, the crowd erupted in whoops and cheers, and voices raised, and the night’s musical ride began.

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The show was an incredible experience. The improvisational feel, the audience participation, the screams of songs both well-known and obscure shot out, and Pete picked and chose, often acknowledging the more challenging of choices with tentative excitement that made it feel like this was as unexpected, and in short, fun, for him, as it was for us. Some of the night’s highlights were deep tracks like Simonize, the turned up and re-arranged Junior Kimbrough cover of I Feel Good Again, The Olms’ cover of She Said No introduced with a beautifully touching story of Pete’s Grandfather’s last day, and the last time Pete had been at The Constellation Room, as well as the crowd explosive For Nancy (‘Cos It Already Is).

My favorites of the night? Most certainly that unexpected opener, as well as June, the emotionally charged Social Development Dance, Pete’s re-imagined Warren Zevon cover of Splendid Isolation, and the new album teaser/first time played live Halifax.

The show ended and the crowd continued to go wild, stomping and clapping in encouragement and request for that end of night encore. Pete gifted us with two and a half more numbers. EZ, from his debut album, and the much loved Mark James’ cover Suspicious Minds that ended with a few lines of I Think We’re Alone Now, ending the show as inspired as it began.

Pete stuck around after to talk with fans, sign items from the merchandise booth, as well as ticket stubs and plectrums, and other assorted items brought along. His grace and generosity with everyone was appreciated, and discussed among a few I stood around who were delighted and surprised by getting this moment with one of their musical favorites. It is a nice addition to a tour that is most certainly a gift to Pete’s loyal fan base, giving a complete “You and Me” experience.

For the complete set-list from the Constellation Room show see here.

Or, if you’d rather a more sonic sample, you can give a listen to a playlist I made from the set-list (minus unreleased Halifax) here.

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Thanks for the music. Stay tuned for night two…up next…

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