Jay Clifford was given a bit of a hero’s welcome Friday night at Cat’s Cradle, shaking hands and high-fiving fans as he took the stage.
The crowd of a couple hundred was a far cry from Jump, Little Children’s sold out shows at the venue a couple years ago, but the evening was a celebration nonetheless.
Jay and his band, including Michael Flynn, Jonathan Gray and Josh Kaler of Slow Runner as well as drummer Benji Lee, played an even mix of his solo material from Driving Blind and Jump songs. The tour itself served as a warm-up of sorts for his show this Thursday’s with the Charleston Symphony, and served only to get me even more excited for our trek to the Holy City.
But, seeing as we’ll have plenty to discuss about Jay at the end of the week, let’s do something that’s probably a little too rare: talk about the openers.
Steven Fiore opened the show with a short set of acoustic songs, joined by Ash Hopkins. The duo previewed a couple of tunes off Fiore’s new album, which will be available later this month. Fiore usually plays in a band with Hopkins and others as Steven Fiore and the Good People, and the album is a full band effort.
While the set itself was great, I almost got the feeling we’d all been missing out when for the last song, Fiore and Hopkins switched over to electric guitars and were joined by Benji Lee on drums. The entire demeanor of the set changed in an instant, and it was a bit of a downer when they had to leave the stage.
The feeling didn’t last, though, because it wasn’t long before Slow Runner took the stage.
The band, comprised of Michael Flynn, Josh Kaler, Jonathan Gray and Scott Baumil, played songs off their latest album, Shiv!, as well as as handful from 2006’s No Disassemble.
Not content with the set list, a couple of people at the front of the crowd kept yelling for the band to play “Streamlined,” off the older album.
“We will not deviate from the list!,” Gray yelled.
“It takes a lot of work to pretend we’re good musicians, and we’re not gonna do that for all the songs!,” Flynn added.
Finally, though, the guys were worn down.
“This is your train wreck, enjoy it,” Flynn said before explaining the chord progressing to Gray. “It’s that ONE slow song I wrote, you know??”
While there may have been a few sour notes in the song, it definitely wasn’t bad for a “train wreck.”
Flynn was all jokes Friday night, telling the crowd his song "Last One" is "a song about a romantic weekend I spent with R. Kelly" and that "Deep End" is "about an erotic weekend Jay and I had together."
He's got the chops to back up his on stage candor — Flynn writes fantastic songs that are really allowed to shine with such a talented band playing them.
I can hardly wait to see what Jay Clifford has cooked up for the group this Thursday.