Dirty Guv’nahs Rock New Year’s Eve

As I mentioned, my choice to bring in the New Year was to attend the Dirty Guv’nah’s concert at the Bijou. I’m sure there were other great places to be in Knoxville, but this one proved to be an excellent choice.

Dishwater Blonde, Bijou, Knoxville, New Year’s Eve 2010

Dishwater Blonde, Bijou, Knoxville, New Year’s Eve 2010

The show started at 9:00 PM with openers Dishwater Blonde. The two groups share a history: James Trimble (of the Guv’nahs mentioned the encouragement they had received from the members of Dishwater Blonde) and Cosmo, the Dirty Guv’nahs’ gritty guitar player originally played was a Blonde before becoming a full-time Guv’nah. Dishwater’s high energy funk sound was a fit opener for an upbeat night. Their originals and their covers got the sold-out crowd moving about and ably warmed them up for what was to come.

Dirty Guv’nahs, Bijou, Knoxville, New Year’s Eve 2010

Breaking down a Guv’nahs’ concert has gotten to be difficult for me. I’ve seen them so many times that the different performances are beginning to merge a bit in my head. Some things stand out in my memory: James hitting the floor at Barley’s when he dove into the crowd and no one caught him, Dirty Guv’nahs holding their own with Blues Traveler, The Square Room shows – one featuring a sick James – and one featuring a much tighter, road-tested band and the Bijou Shows, especially the CD release concert for Youth Is In Our Blood.

James wails the songs, Justin thumps the beat, Bijou, New Year’s Eve 2010

Cosmo and James, Bijou, Knoxville, New Year’s Eve 2010

The New Year’s show was very tight and professional from the beginning. Feedback issues initially inhibited James’ use of his vocal mike and they reappeared moderately throughout the night. The show felt like it started off a bit slowly, almost as if the band was tired or a bit uncertain. The exuberance that has marked their previous performances didn’t seen to be as apparent early on. The sound was there – no one seemed to miss a lick – but something seemed amiss. Fortunately this cleared up after the first couple of songs and the band hit their joyous stride.

Chris on the Keyboard, Bijou, Knoxville, New Year’s Eve 2010

Chris and Cosmo, Bijou, Knoxville, New Year’s Eve 2010 

I’m never sure if I notice things I’ve missed before or if they are genuine changes from the previous outing. What stood out to me this time was that Michael’s guitar playing seemed to be higher in the mix. He took most of the early leads and then traded leads for the rest of the night. As one of the band’s two primary song writers, they are, after all, his songs, so this makes sense. Sonically it makes complete sense. I’ve loved his light, airy solos since the early days and, while I love Cosmo’s muscular style of playing, I’ve felt it overshadowed Michael’s excellent playing. The band seems to finally have it right – or they’ve had it right all along and I’m finally catching up. Both guitarists played stunningly and their disparate styles complimented the total sound of the band adding an intricate texture not previously exploited as fully as it deserves.

Guv’nahs and Friends, Bijou, Knoxville, New Year’s Eve 2010

There was also much fun along the way. The friends of the band were invited onto the stage for the sendoff for the old year. One friend proposed to another on stage (she said, “yes.”). Wayne Chisholm and Dede took center stage during Baby We Were Young (see the video a couple of posts back). Wayne likes the stage. Maybe he could be an honorary Guv’nah.

Cosmo: Rock God, Bijou, Knoxville, New Year’s Eve 2010

Covers are always fun with the Guv’nahs. This time they picked several for the encore. The most unlikely was Werewolves Of London by Warren Zevon. It was a fun sing-along. The lead singer from Dishwater Blonde joined the band along with Cosmo’s dad on bass, for Stevie Wonder’s I Wish. Two other choices were excellent: The last song for the full band was I Shall Be Released, the Bob Dylan song. In their last Bijou performance the band played Like A Rolling Stone (another Bob Dylan song) and while I was delighted, it didn’t really seem worked out. This song is perfect for different singers and a large ensemble and gave a note of gravitas to the passing of time as we celebrated the changing of the year.

The show ended with James and Chris singing A House Of Gold by Hank Williams from the front of the stage without amplification. So we got covers by Stevie Wonder, Warren Zevon, Bob Dylan and Hank Williams. That’s a pretty good desert island list, right there. It was a great ending to a very good show. Happy New Year, Guv’nahs. Happy New Year Knoxville.