M. Ward At The Orange Peel

Last Saturday seriousandy treated me to a little M. Ward. We drove up to Asheville, had some delicious noodles at Doc Chey's, had some Pisgah Vortex II imperial stout at Barley's (apparently the only place you can buy it), I smoked an Onyx Belicoso, then we hit the show. And man, what a show.

The opening band, Suttie, was a sort of Cowboy Junkies/Neko Case thang that I dug, although they were either too cool for school or really nervous, 'cause they didn't have a whole lot of enthusiasm (except, as Andy pointed out, when they played a cover).

M. Ward, on the other hand, was wholly invested in his music. Holy cow. His stuff is just so dense. He's technically gifted, the music is good, his voice and verve are soulful, and his poetry is evocative but simple. I was absolutely blown away. Andy happily insisted on doing the dork thing, and we were all the way up against the stage (at the corner, so that my huge body would obscure the artist!), so that we had an excellent view.

The guy played by himself, a guitar and a piano. And the set was, as a member of Suttie had said it would be, "like one big single." He did several songs from "The Transfiguration of Vincent," including the Bowie cover "Let's Dance," which is the song that made me love him, and "Poor Boy, Minor Key," the perfect example of how Ward is poetically so clever and so dense all at once. He seemed to skip over the album "Transistor Radio," but did several from "Post-War." I love "Poison Cup," which is one of his several very deliberate songs, in which he builds pathos by being slow and deliberate, and using the strength of his rich voice to deliver a simple but killer line.

"I hope you know what this means. I'm going to give you everything."

I mean, I left that show feeling charged up. Great, memorable, beautiful stuff.

I had a chance to see M. Ward when I visited Rich in Minneapolis a few years ago, but I didn't do it. I'm glad it finally happened. He's currently touring with Norah Jones, so if you have the opportunity to see him, do it.

Here's one from "Post-War" he didn't do, "Requiem."