|Photo by Jason Gonulsen|
If it’s the wish to run away
Then I will grant it
Take whatever what you think of
While I go gas up the truck
Pack the old love letters up
We will read them when we forget why we left here
There’s a fine line between being hopeful and admitting to yourself that something has reached its end. There’s also forcing something over the edge, which is bold and, most of the time, unnecessary. And then there’s “If It’s The Beaches,” a song that has a hand in everything at play: drawing a firm line in the sand, packing up your bags, and re-arranging plans to change for another. “A guarantee and not a promise,” Scott Avett sings, making clear of his intentions to follow through, for better or worse.
Last night was my fourth Avett Brothers show, but the first in which “If It’s The Beaches” was performed. It was worth the wait.
Much like the song itself, you must not force moments like these, because let’s face it: if your ticket came with a published setlist, some memories would be aborted simply because they would never have a chance to develop. Thankfully, last night, everything had time and space to breathe, starting with a curtain that was raised at the exact moment The Avett Brothers began their opening song, “Die Die Die.”
I’ll admit that one of my favorite moments in a concert is when the artist or band walks on stage, but I’ll make an exception here to say that The Avett Brothers’ covered, private, and unknowing entrance to everyone but themselves was exactly what this show needed to thrive from the start. You had no time to think; instead, you had a gradual and simultaneous unveiling of the appearance of a band and music at the same time. And the words had bite: Die die die, die die die die.
Smartly, the Avetts took us straight into another gem: “Head Full Of Doubt/Road Full Of Promise,” a song that is as declarative as any other in their catalog. “Decide what to be and go be it” was the explicit urging of Scott Avett. The line is so simple, yet I wonder if the sentiment has ever been touched upon so effectively.
And that’s really the beauty of The Avett Brothers: they don’t say too much, but they say enough. They gracefully embrace the tough human subjects: death, love, murder, acceptance, broken dreams, unrealized potential. Some of their songs are sad, but you wouldn’t know it by glancing around the Fox Theatre: their fans are singing, dancing, totally in the moment with whatever The Avetts have chosen to perform.
There were many special moments, like the aforementioned “If It’s The Beaches,” and the moment where we’re treated to a Seth and Scott Avett duo of “Murder In The City,” a performance that goes straight for the heart of everyone in the audience. And although I’ve heard them do it before, it felt different last night at The Fox — as real as any live-music moment I’ve witnessed this year.
If you’re wondering how the new material from their latest album, The Carpenter, held up, there were no hiccups. I’m guessing that “Live and Die” will be a staple in their set for many years to come, and the same goes for “Down With the Shine.” “The Once and Future Carpenter” held weight, too, as it led perfectly into the main-set closer, “I and Love and You.”
When The Avetts play “I and Love and You,” and they almost always do, they expect your participation to sing those “three words that became hard to say.” All it takes is for Seth Avett to raise up three fingers to let the floodgates open — soon, the audience becomes a cathedral of soft, longing voices: “I and Love and You.”
And while we had a lot of fun earlier during “Go To Sleep” and “Kick Drum Heart,” and later, during the first encore, “Talk On Indolence,” I still contend that joining voices to end a song trumps everything when it comes to live music.
And if everyone were to stay quiet? Then I fully believe The Avett Brothers would find a way to re-arrange their plans and change.