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Old 05-12-2019, 09:11 PM
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Most "alive" live band, where banter ensued


I was about to post in the "Most miserable looking live band" thread, and realized I don't want to revisit those nights in my head. I'd rather dwell on the nights when the performer was engaged with the audience, fun was had and witty comments were made. As was a connection to the audience.

I've been to a lot of performances that were basically listening to the band's latest album. I feel let down, but then I realize I got spoiled early by a friend dragging me 100 miles to see a young Springsteen (who I'd never heard of). Sure, he rocked hard for over three hours (and I date my hearing loss to that night). But he laughed and chatted with us, and at one point sat down on the edge of the stage and told a story from his childhood.

Fast forward forty years, and I finally got to see Neil Finn at a festival. His band was his wife and sons, and without Crowded House he seemed looser. He talked a lot, joked and made fun of his boy Elroy (who was trying to fit his new Theremin into a song... Neil stopped the song and Elroy had to do his electronic music solo, and kind of gave up). Oh, and later Neil got all of us to wave and shout at the passengers on a tram til they waved back.

But for authentic dad-joke banter, how can you not love Chris Isaak walking out on stage in full rhinestone cowboy gear and drawling, "Y'know, little hint here... When you see someone dressed like this, it's your assurance that you are in for an entire evening of Adequate Country Music!"
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Old 05-12-2019, 09:44 PM
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John Sebastian was just great. He played in Memorial Chapel at my college and came on stage looking around wonderously. "I never played in a chapel before.*" And started playing "Chapel of Love." It was amazing.

Loudon Wainwright III is a great performers in concert - very funny and entertaining.

For a group, it's the J. Geils Band. Peter Wolf did a lot of patter leading into every song and put everything into every note he sang. Magic Dick was a great showman. J. Geils just played without much fuss, but when he did a solo, you couldn't take your eyes off him.



*I found out recently that the Lovin' Spoonful played there, so it was hyperbole.
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Old 05-12-2019, 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by digs View Post
I was about to post in the "Most miserable looking live band" thread, and realized I don't want to revisit those nights in my head. I'd rather dwell on the nights when the performer was engaged with the audience, fun was had and witty comments were made. As was a connection to the audience.
I know this is pretty much the exact opposite of what you're after, but I was always a big fan of the way that the band Fear engaged with the audience between songs. (They basically taunted the crowd and/or told dirty jokes in a drunken drawl.) I mean, it wasn't really like friendly or positive or anything, but man oh man was it clear that every one was very, very alive at that moment.

For the type of thing you mean tho, Jamey Jasta is the masta (Hatebreed) (of positivity). He pumps a crowd up, pumps each person in the crowd up, and then keeps that increase in intensity going into each song. He's been great at this since he was 15 and all he's done is honed it to a perfect razor edge.

Jimmy Buffet used to do quite a bit of storytelling and audience interaction back in the day; there's reasons he got so many crazy diehard fans besides the fun songs.

Last edited by Snowboarder Bo; 05-12-2019 at 10:26 PM.
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Old 05-12-2019, 10:35 PM
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You don't know "connection to the audience" until you've had undead Hitler's cum in your face or robotic space pope's arms ripped off and had q double barrel blast of blood in your eyes. Oh, and then there is the crack-addicted t-rex brains and blood in your hair...
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Old 05-12-2019, 10:53 PM
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Yeah, I know just what you mean. Ain’t it great?
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Old 05-12-2019, 10:56 PM
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Yeah, I know just what you mean. Aint it great?
It makes every other live show meh at best in comparison.
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Old 05-13-2019, 04:04 AM
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Ian Anderson of Tull gives great banter.

Mumford and Sons were also surprisingly interactive when I saw them.
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Old 05-13-2019, 04:28 AM
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BB King.

I've seen him 5 times, he always engages the crowd, tells stories etc.
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Old 05-13-2019, 05:18 AM
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Leo Kottke has some interesting musings between songs.
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Old 05-13-2019, 06:43 AM
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We saw Michael Franti & Spearhead a few years ago and wow was he pumped. At one point he was walking through the crowd and he stopped by us to sing a while. He danced with my gf and hugged me. He was the sweatiest person I've ever hugged. I was totally into the music, but still managed to feel a tiny bit disgusted. It was a great show.
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Old 05-13-2019, 08:10 AM
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(Mumble) decades ago my girlfriend wanted to spend New Years Eve in Las Vegas. I forget which casino but the headliner was Doc Severinsen. It was... adequate and I won't say he was miserable-looking but it was obviously just a job. Perhaps he wasn't feeling well.

The opener, though, was Tony Orlando (no Dawn) and he lit up the place. Bantering with the audience including a good-natured heckler, telling an on-the-set story about a TV movie he'd just completed shooting and pretty much making the evening worthwhile.
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Old 05-13-2019, 08:49 AM
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I've seen some great live shows, but in terms of connection with the audience it's hard to beat New Orleans rock band Cowboy Mouth. Drummer and frontman Fred LeBlanc's energy could power a small town, and at some point every audience is asked -- nay, commanded -- to crouch down really small and then jump up with a primal scream. You don't just go to a Cowboy Mouth show; you experience a Cowboy Mouth show.
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Old 05-13-2019, 09:12 AM
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That's exactly my answer, Misnomer. The connection to the audience I've seen Cowboy Mouth gives is astonishing. From stopping the show after a stage dive to sing 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' to the squished girl - and hauling the guy onstage to apologize - to buying beers for people on the fly, a Cowboy Mouth show is a spectacle of good times where the band and the crowd are pretty close.

Believe it or not when I saw U2 before they went huge Bono was like that, too. You could tell he personally needed to connect with the audience and hear them as much as they wanted to hear him.

Arlo Guthrie - honestly, a lot of the folkie types - interact with their audience a lot, too. Personal requests, people on stage, asking questions and telling stories has a strong tradition in the folk world.
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Old 05-13-2019, 09:13 AM
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Arlo Guthrie, hands down.

His entire show is him telling stories, seemingly interspersed with a few songs. He even jokes about it, appearing to be starting a song and then stopping - "Hey, that reminds me of a story..."
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Old 05-13-2019, 09:16 AM
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Yeah, 'Alice's Restaurant' isn't an aberration. It's just how the man performs.
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Old 05-13-2019, 10:35 AM
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Barenaked Ladies are pretty good when it come to telling stories and connecting with the audience. The past two times I've seen them, they had a comedian as an opener, and different band members would wander onstage to joke with him, or play an instrument in support of the jokes he was telling. Lots of audience engagement as well.
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Old 05-13-2019, 11:02 AM
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I popped in to say Barenaked Ladies too. I've seen them once at an arena and it seemed like a much much smaller show. I saw them some 15 years later, this time at an outdoor stage, without Steve, and they still had great banter and made it seem very small. They talked a lot about hanging out in Cleveland for a day.

Like the Neil Finn story from the OP, BNL was performing on a stage near the mouth of the Cuyahoga River. They thought it was super cool that ships were going by behind them. They really wanted to get a ship to blow its horn so they stopped the show when one came by so we could all wave and get the passengers to wave and the ship to blow its horn. It worked!
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Old 05-13-2019, 11:05 AM
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the Mountain Goats are my easy answer for this one. The leader, John Darnielle, is a fascinatingly charming and engaging guy. He does a lot of stage banter about how songs were written or experiences he's had that really bring the songs to life, and he commands a crowd extremely impressively. Every concert is unique, and he's really known for mixing in obscure deep cuts with the "hits" and he'll often talk about how he chooses what to play. And he writes the kind of albums where every random track off every album is SOMEBODY'S favorite, so it feels like there's always a reaction in the room. One of the first shows I saw ended with the whole crowd screaming along to a song I'd never heard and only found out later is an unreleased track.

I've seen him play raucous punk clubs with mosh pits, large theaters with captive audiences, and, once, unamplified with an acoustic guitar walking around a music store with the audience sitting on the floor. He can completely own every space.
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Old 05-13-2019, 02:30 PM
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Saw KISS in 1976.

Labrador puppies do not have that kind of energy.
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Old 05-14-2019, 02:40 PM
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Both Canadian Brass and The Chieftains were HILARIOUS when explaining their pieces.
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Old 05-14-2019, 03:05 PM
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Arlo Guthrie, hands down.

His entire show is him telling stories, seemingly interspersed with a few songs. He even jokes about it, appearing to be starting a song and then stopping - "Hey, that reminds me of a story..."
I saw him when I was in college...in the late 90's. There must have been a 40 year age gap between me and the next youngest person.
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Old 05-14-2019, 03:14 PM
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Not me, but my parents have seen Engelbert Humperdinck a few times, and they say he always puts on a wonderful show. The last time was just a couple years ago.
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Old 05-14-2019, 03:25 PM
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Saw KISS in 1976.

Labrador puppies do not have that kind of energy.
I second KISS. Saw them twice. Once on the Crazy Nights tour and once on the KISS Alive/Worldwide Reunion tour. Think what you want about thier music, they put on a hell of a show.

Went to see Survivor at a small casino for a cheap show. They were ok, but the opening act was the Village People. VP put on one of the most most fun, engaging sets I have ever seen. They were high energy, engaged with the crowd both during and between songs. One of the best times I have had at a show. Best moment a couple of older, very very drunk women were standing at the edge of the stage waving dollar bills. Filipe Rose (Indian) looked down at them and quiped "This is not that kind of show!"
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Old 05-14-2019, 03:57 PM
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Ian Anderson of Tull gives great banter.
I and some friends went to see him in Germany when we were stationed in the Air Force there, and he kept bantering with the audience in German. They loved it, we Americans didn't know enough German to understand what he was saying.

For great banter, check out The Skivvies on YouTube.
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Old 05-14-2019, 04:33 PM
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Unfortunately he just decided to take a break from touring that he may not come back from but....

Rik Emmett has mostly done acoustic shows with his stage partner Dave Dunlop. He is charming and funny and very engaging with the crowd and plays off Dave very well. Ive seen him three times and highly recommend it. If he comes back of course.
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Old 05-14-2019, 04:43 PM
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I had a buddy in college way back when who managed to get 2nd row seats to Alice Cooper. Let's just say they were a lot more engaged and interactive with the audience than he expected.

Imagine the Harlem Globetrotters with the kids in the floor seats. Except that it was Alice Cooper in a dark theater instead of a brightly lit arena.
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Old 05-14-2019, 05:06 PM
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Arlo for sure...

David Bromberg is pretty much a storyteller and sometime goofy on stage and ALWAYS puts on a great show. And he can build his own fiddle and guitar too!

High energy (read that as you may)...Leftover Salmon.... FESTIVAL !!!

And a semi local band Old Salt Union are GREAT! If you get a chance, see them! Call Me Al

The bass player (in yellow jacket) used to work for me. His uncles is/was in Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt
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Old 05-14-2019, 09:32 PM
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I had a buddy in college way back when who managed to get 2nd row seats to Alice Cooper. Let's just say they were a lot more engaged and interactive with the audience than he expected.

Imagine the Harlem Globetrotters with the kids in the floor seats. Except that it was Alice Cooper in a dark theater instead of a brightly lit arena.
My son and his friends HAD to go see Alice Cooper back in the Early-Oughts. Alice had a radio show where he introduced his favorite songs, but also told great anecdotes about the good ol' days of rock 'n' roll... as well as current rockers.

I can still hear his melodious baritone on the car radio late at night: "So, here's a phrase I never thought I'd start a story with... 'I was sharing a hot tub with Eddie Van Halen after a hilarious 18 holes of golf'..."

Last edited by digs; 05-14-2019 at 09:34 PM.
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Old 05-15-2019, 08:40 AM
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I second KISS. Saw them twice. Once on the Crazy Nights tour and once on the KISS Alive/Worldwide Reunion tour. Think what you want about thier music, they put on a hell of a show.

Went to see Survivor at a small casino for a cheap show. They were ok, but the opening act was the Village People. VP put on one of the most most fun, engaging sets I have ever seen. They were high energy, engaged with the crowd both during and between songs. One of the best times I have had at a show. Best moment a couple of older, very very drunk women were standing at the edge of the stage waving dollar bills. Filipe Rose (Indian) looked down at them and quiped "This is not that kind of show!"
Yes. This is why I'm such a fan (of the original 70s KISS). Their live show was better than the record; and isn't that the whole point of a live show? To go SEE something you can't simply HEAR by sitting at home listening to the record. And for the record, Paul Stanley's banter with the crowd was always top notch, IMHO.
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:30 AM
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the Mountain Goats are my easy answer for this one. The leader, John Darnielle, is a fascinatingly charming and engaging guy. He does a lot of stage banter about how songs were written or experiences he's had that really bring the songs to life, and he commands a crowd extremely impressively.
Darnielle is an absolute hoot. I have been going with the same bunch of friends for years to catch him each time he is in Australia. At the Mountain Goats wiki you can spend hours perusing his song intros.

For example This Year : "This is a song about how sometimes you are living in a house and you're in high school and your stepfather is abusing your mother and you, and it really sucks. You have to take a lot of drugs to deal with that, right, but you don't have to, I should say. But you probably do. And when you do, they make you feel marginally better but the main thing that makes you feel better is the company of other people who are as damaged as you are or will shortly become as damaged as you are, and you can sense it, because there is an internal sensor if you bear some damage, you have this sensor that says 'That person is either damaged or is getting there, and I think I will hang out with her until things get a little brighter.' I play this for a lovely person who wore a cape to school." -- 2011-03-30 - Bowery Ballroom - New York, NY

or

New Monster Avenue : "This song is sort of about the feeling you get if you stay in your house for too long and you feel like maybe you don't, uh, relate to anybody at all. And you sort of resent them, but you're certain they're going to come and get you. I'm here to tell you you're absolutely right." -- 2006-09-26 - Middle East Downstairs - Cambridge, MA
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Old 05-15-2019, 01:08 PM
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Todd Snider (that filthy hippy!) puts on a good show.

Drive-By Truckers can't be beat.
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Old 05-15-2019, 01:59 PM
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Jimmy Buffett, pre-Parrotheads. Now, of course, he travels with a shitload of people and everything is scripted. But in the beginning when it was just him and "Fingers" Taylor, his shows were loose, wild and wonderful.
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Old 05-15-2019, 03:42 PM
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Unknown, I assume, to US dopers - John Otway fits the bill admirably. In this amateur video, we join him half way through an explanation of how he filled Abbey Road studio with a 1000 piece choir (in truth 900) of fans to record House Of The Rising Sun. He then goes on to perform the song, together with the audience.

God knows how, but over the years a bizarre call-and-response has evolved, so that the audience now do their own lines (kinda heckles, but "scripted"). So we have, for example:

(Audience, pre-empting the next line of the song): What's the only thing a gambler needs?
(Otway, singing): The only thing a gambler needs, is a suitcase and a trunk....
(Audience): That's two things!
(Otway): I know. I didn't write it.

And so on. Give it a listen. It's hilarious.

The relationship between Otway and his fans (I must have seen him 20 times over the years) is wonderfully warm and charming - you get the impression that the fans believe they own him.

j

BTW, Billy Connolly started off as a folkie, but over time the rambling bits between the songs became longer and longer, and the songs fewer and fewer, until......
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Old 05-15-2019, 03:51 PM
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Although a bit obscure, my favorite band is Gaelic Storm, and this is basically their entire schtick. A show's success varies on the venue and crowd. I've seen then in places ranging from bars to big concert halls and they're always fun. But the last time was in a venue with no place to dance, instead there were dinner tables filled with people who'd never heard of them. So quiet.
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