Fun show for $22 on a thursday night.
Sadly, this venue sucks. The search going in was ridiculous, full pat down for the men, pockets fully emptied, who can't tell a wallet when then feel it? The advertised information was all wrong, the bar selection was crappy and expensive. For my money, the Fillmore was the place for this show but anyone who's been to The Grand knows it's a poor venue choice. Can't be that great for the artists either, upstairs was closed and the downstairs was maybe at half capacity. A little promotion might have gone a long way.
The opening act was a singer-songwriter buddy of Xavier's from Australia, kinda reminded me of Todd Shaeffer from RRE if he was put through a taffy puller He was good, played an acoustic guitar and sang a bunch of his own songs. The crowd didn't pay him much attention, he asked for quiet more than once.
As for Xavier, he was a mixed bag. He was definitely set up to play a much larger room...he had a big light show and his rig was wired and mic'd up like there was no tomorrow. In addition to his lap slide, all his hand drums, his three didgs, and whatever other bells and whistles he personally had, there was also a drummer with a full kit and a whole bunch of congas.
I'm not sure if it was the additional drummer, the ick of the room or the new material that I didn't like, but the end result was a muddled sound. The drums overpowered the acoustic nature of the music. The new material was darker and moodier than previous albums, which could the influencing factor in what I didn't like. And there wasn't enough didgeridoo...that was the unique part of Xavier, I'd hate to see him lose more of it.
I like the Xavier Rudd dance beat, the beginning of the set was heavy with new material but that made plenty of room for the old stuff to close out the night. The show as almost 2 hours with probably half of it being the old stuff. He closed the show with a cover of Rockin in the Free World, took me by surprise, I've never know XR to do a covers, it was fun.
Overall, the evening was fun, I had a good time and enjoyed much of the music but I was reminded why I tend to skip shows at this venue. I would have more raves and fewer rants if this show had been at the fillmore.
Let's hope that AEG/GV have it more together at the Warfield, which is re-opening very soon.
They're going to be in trouble if they have the same issues there. They continue to throw big money around trying to book everything in sight right now, but you can only spend so much money before you have to start bringing some back in, and I've heard nothing but negativity about the staff & vibe at the Grand and I know more than a few people who have skipped shows specifically because they've been at the Grand.
And the venue, while attractive is very poor for music. I'll be surprised if they're still booking shows there a year from now.
Something else that was funny and worth a mention, for one song there was a guest bass player. It was hard to hear but I think he was introduced as one of the security guards, I was in the back by then but from there he appeared to be wearing the same black jacket as the rest of the security team. Then they started into a real funky West LA Fadeaway, except of course that I was hearing things, and it was really an Xavier Rudd tune. Few minutes after that an old friend emerged from the crowd--1st thing she said 'I thought that was gonna be West LA Fadeaway' HA! Guess we were on the same page!