New York, NY
December 26, 2015
When you're the high-energy lead singer of an explosive jam band, it's a tough call when you decide to do an acoustic one-man show. When you're David Shaw and your band is the Revivalists (whose musical vision has been credited by some as revitalizing the New Orleans music scene) it's a no-brainer for the fans to flock to the solo performances. However, until the performances actually begin happening and the tour has made more than just a few stops, the fans don't really know what to expect. And neither did Shaw, who began the show by announcing that, "I haven't really done it like this. This is super official." Early in the show he also stated that, "I'm going to shake things up. For those of you who don't know, I'm going to do some old stuff, some new stuff and some things that the band does."
Shaw's solo performance at City Winery on the day after Christmas was, surprisingly, laid back. The energy and exuberance of his Revivalists' performances seemed to be missing. During his set, the usually bouncy, bopping and almost frenetic singer sat center stage on a stool and played acoustic guitar while he sang. Although the songs were interspersed with interesting stories, one couldn't help but wonder what had happened to the man known to jump off the stage just to high-five a fan. Where was the singer whose stage persona is one-third rock 'n' roll madman, one-third jam band guru and finally one-third tent-show revival preacher (kind of makes sense that his band is called the Revivalists). On this night in New York City, that particular David Shaw made only a few appearances. The David Shaw who played City Winery was a bit more reserved. That is not to say his show wasn't of high-quality or well-received. It was both. It was, however, more sedate than what fans of the Revivalists have come to expect.
That being said, Shaw treated the packed-to-the-gills supper- club/fully functional winery/concert venue to an intimate evening of fun songs that take elements of rock, soul, country, funk, roots, and folk mixed together to create and addicting musical gumbo. Even in their acoustic forms, Shaw adhered to the jam band "credo" by playing elongated improvised version of his songs. As he promised, he played songs from all facets of his career.
Highlights included "Pretty Photograph" (from the Revivalists' major label debut2014's Wind-Up Records release City of Sounds
); "Keep Going," "Amber" and "Wish I Knew You," (from 2015's Wind-Up Records release Men Amongst Mountains
); "Soulfight" (from 2008's self- releasedThe Revivalists
EP); "Appreciate Me" (from the Revivalists' 2012 self-released Vital Signs
CD); "Pressure" (with the I sold my soul to the devil lyric); "So Strange;" "Don't Bury My Name" and "(Goddamn) I Hate to Love You." The set also included choice covers of Gillian Welch's "Miss Ohio" and Galactic's "Into The Deep," which was actually written by Shaw and about which he stated, "I felt like I was giving away my baby. They did it alright but everybody raises their baby differently. I'm going to sing you my version." When the song ended, he said, "If you know the song you know the verses are different. I'll let you decide which you like better."
Though the performance was a little more restrained than many expected, the crowd was far from restrained. The audience cheered, clapped and shouted requests toward Shaw, who good-naturedly tried to fulfill as many pleas as possible. Requesting songs is a sign of an audience member's love of a piece of music created by an artist. And, it represents a way for the crowd to connect with a performer.
In many cases an exuberant crowd is a good thing. On this night that was a bit debatable. Some portions of the performance were ruined by a very loud group of audience members who claimed to be "David's friends." This group was very rowdy, entitled, unruly and somewhat rude. Their unpleasant behavior caused many of the unfortunate audience members seated in the puzzle-work maze of closely situated tables near them to be quite uncomfortable and have a less than enjoyable evening. Unfortunately, for both Shaw and his true fans, it was a shame that the City Winery's staff had little or no control over the situation.
Photo Credit: Christine Connallon
[Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon