* Uncle Bob and the boys ( Greg Demos, Kevin Fennel, Mitch Mitchell, and Tobin Sprout) are really enjoying themselves on this, their classic lineup reunion tour. It was even more evident Saturday night in Detroit, than it was two weeks ago in Columbus. Robert Pollard, again, displayed a fine array of rock kicks and Mitch Mitchel smoked like an out of control choo-choo train. Later in the night, as Pollard really started to enjoy his midnight birthday, everyone in the band got a bear hug. Even Sprout, who was stoic during the Columbus show, was all smiles this time around.
* It bears repeating that Guided by Voices don’t look or sound like an old-timer band doing a cash-grab. Sure, certain members have bigger bellies than they did 15 years ago, but who doesn’t? The band’s mix of punk-rock, pop, psychedelic rock, and prog rock, (The four P’s, if you will) when condensed into small, one, two, and three minute, sing-along songs, is as potent as it ever was.
* If you haven’t had a chance to catch Guided by Voices on this tour, or if you’re unfamiliar with the band, the best way I could describe the experience is that it’s like a Jimmy Buffet show for indie-rockers — There’s lots of drinking, and there’s a certain camaraderie in the crowd where you can be surrounded by strangers and best friends all the same. The main differences being, Guided by Voices rock out and aren’t lame, like Jimmy Buffet, and instead of singing about hamburgers and margaritas, you shout out nebulous lines like, “King Sh*t and the Golden Boys!” and “The queen of cans and jars will keep us safe!” and “The goldheart mountaintop queen directory!”
* Say what you will about Detroit, (Yes, it’s been hit harder than most by the recession. Yes, it’s the scene of some expansive urban prairies where homes and businesses used to be. And, yes, there are more beggars per square mile than even downtown Cleveland.) but the Majestic Theater is a wonderful place to see a show. The main room is an open, classically styled space with sky-high ceilings. Look around, and its not hard to imagine what a jewel it must have been in earlier days. Look around some more, and you realize you probably wouldn’t want to see Mogwai, My Bloody Valentine, or Sunn O))) at the Majestic. Not that they would sound bad in this space (The soundman would really have to be a stooge to ruin the mix at the Majestic), rather, with spots of missing plaster on the ceiling, one could imagine a loud band shaking the venue down to the ground. And that, in a nutshell is Detroit — Equal parts beauty and decay.
* The set list for Detroit was very similar to Columbus in substance, but not necessarily in order — Somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 songs with nearly all the fan favorites from the classic GBV era (Approx 92-95) played (“My Valuable Hunting Knife,” “Smothered in Hugs,” “I Am a Scientist,” “Motor Away,” “Game of Pricks”, “Large-Hearted Boy,” etc) Again, the encores were centered around “Don’t Stop Now,” “Johnny Appleseed,” and “Weed King.” From a personal standpoint, it would have been nice to hear “Over the Neptune/Mesh Gear Fox,” at one of these shows, but if that’s my only complaint, then, well, I shouldn’t be complaining.
* While I have no insider information to indicate such, I wouldn’t be surprised if this reunion tour turns into a much longer reunion tour than originally planned. Venues are being sold out. Both the band and the fans are having a blast. The band is doing mad business at the merch table (I’m sporting a red, GBV classic-lineup tee as I type this). And, there’s just been a New Year’s Eve show announced for NYC. At this point, don’t rule out anything. There could me more dates. Hell, the band could record a new tune, or two.