Live Reviews

Was it the Bourbon or the Beyond?

Live Review: Bourbon & Beyond Music Fest (Day 3 Highlights), 9/17/22 at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville

(First-person diversion: My bride and I belong to the Crowded House-loving ilk, of which there are many members. Our love of the band stretches back to our courtin’ days. I had never heard of this music fest, but came across it from a Crowded House tour announcement. Long story short, Neil Finn’s son, Elroy, drums in the band and had a mishap leading the band to postpone the entirety of the U.S. tour, so Neil and Liam made the trip.)

Despite the rest of the terrific lineup, we considered selling the tickets and not driving the six hours from Atlanta to Louisville. But the clouds parted and the band announced that Neil and elder son Liam would make it to Kentucky, and we made the drive. Sad that we missed Drive-By Truckers – one of the best American bands out there – who for some ungodly reason went on at 2:00.

The Bourbon & Beyond Music Fest is one of the underrated American music festivals. Click that link and take a look at past lineups…a notch above many. This review contains highlights of six bands playing Saturday, Day 3 of a four-day extravaganza. First up was the pride of Birmingham, Alabama and a fresh voice of Southern soul, St. Paul & The Broken Bones. I was there when they opened for the Rolling Stones in Atlanta in 2015 – quite a mindblowing evening. An excellent, passionate, and talented ensemble, with Paul Janeway at the helm. Playing selections from their new album The Alien Coast, the Bones are venturing into new territories. Check out “Atlas,” sporting some kind of progressive, experimental Jazz thing. It’s amazing.

Indie rockers Cold War Kids showed why their fanbase is as solid as a shot of Henry McKenna. Kicking off their set was the 2017 hit “Love is Mystical.” The band spread the love across eight albums, dating back to 2006’s Robbers & Cowards. The high was around 85° and partly cloudy. Not a bad day, save for a bit of dust getting kicked up at the KY Expo Center. Tolerating pavement, gravel, and grass for entire days is the life of music fest lovers. Singer Nathan Willett is a perfect frontman, leading the group through a quick 50-minute set. The closer was the big one, “First,” with Willett singing, “Flying like a cannonball, falling to the earth / Heavy as a feather when you hit the dirt.”

Neil and Liam Finn of Crowded House turned in a high-point performance with their last-minute decision to make the trek to Louisville. Although the band was not in full force, the boys kept their original one-hour slot. The setlist was a greatest hits power play, along with a couple of Liam tunes from his first album I’ll Be Lightning. If you’re familiar with the Finns, you know Neil is the very definition of underrated: for his songwriting, singing, guitaring, and smart, hilarious banter with us, his fans and friends. Since I first saw Crowded House open for Bruce Hornsby & The Range in 1986, they’ve remained at the top of my love list. Meeting Neil and bassist Nick Seymour at an acoustic set in 1994 was another hero moment. Their show that night at the old Roxy in Atlanta was the late drummer Paul Hester’s last official gig before leaving the band soon after. And a special evening it was.

Old pal Eddie Vedder joined the duo onstage during the Crowded House classic “World Where You Live” and Split Enz standard “I Got You.” Vedder espoused his love for Split Enz and Crowded House and was part of Neil’s 7 World’s Collide collective straight outta New Zealand. For the moderately busy concert-goer, a random physical altercation among the throngs is not big surprise. On this day, that very thing occurred, with Neil being his usual compassionate and calming self. After drawing attention to the crowd, he remarked, “Was it the bourbon or the beyond?”

Skipping ahead to the night’s headliner, Pearl Jam lit the crowd on fire, as usual. Touring in support of their eleventh studio album, the climate change cry of 2020’s Gigaton is one of their most formidable releases. Eddie Vedder led an assault on the senses with a terrific set of the band’s best from the past three decades. The encore was a gem, with “Jeremy,” “Alive,” and the fiery rendition of Prince‘s “Purple Rain.”

Watch for Bourbon & Beyond news HERE.

Categories: Live Reviews

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