Bobby Bare Jr. is still brilliant, still funny, still one of the best lyricists around - but he seems just a little wiser. (Photo: Hunter Armistead)
I reviewed Bobby Bare Jr.’s show at the Hi-Dive on South Broadway last Wednesday, September 15, for Denver Post Reverb, and Bobby took the time to comment. I was shocked, and pretty stoked – but not too surprised. I’ve seen him a number of times, and have known him to be damned personable, approachable and easy to talk to. What concerned me was that he seemed just a little pissed at my review – because I pointed out that this show was a little “morose,” in comparison to past ones.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Bare’s been through Denver a number of times in the last six or so years, usually with his band the Young Criminal Starvation League. He consistently entertains full houses with a show bursting with energy, smiles and laughs and filled with hopelessly catchy tunes and brilliant lyricism. While the lyricism and catchy tunes haven’t changed, Wednesday night’s performance was much heavier, more morose. He used to play barefoot, howling impossibly quaint stories that inspired giggles more than sympathy from behind an unwieldy mop of sweaty curls, out of a mouth always bent from recent laughter.
But on Wednesday he wore a dark blue jacket and slacks, a white cowboy hat and shoes. His hair was still a wild mass with a mind of its own — it’s gained even more independence over the years — but it wrapped a lined face adorned with sensible glasses. And his mouth inspired a visage of Joe Cocker crooning amidst considerable pain, rather than ebullience.
He looked and performed more like a later-in-life Roky Erickson than the wonderful and careless Bobby Bare Jr. that has been here before.”
and you can read the review in its entirety, as well as Bobby’s response, at Denver Post Reverb (Please do!). . .
I guess “morose” may have been a poor word choice. Bobby seemed happy, and the crowd and the band really did have a great time. I just thought the fact that he seems to have grown older – just a little – stood out, and that’s what I focused on for a brief, visceral review.
To clarify, Bobby’s seen better years, I’d imagine, than the past four. During that time, he’s nearly lost a child, gotten divorced, and nearly lost his mother to a tree that smashed through their house, and landed directly upon her head. If that’s not enough to make you re-think a natural happiness – even just a little – then I don’t know what is . . . .
My only point in the review was meant to show that I saw Bobby as more adult now, and less carefree, funny, and poetic in his songs and stories of heartbreak and devotion – and so many other things. His brilliance, as a performer, musician and songwriter is still fully intact, in fact may be even stronger. Just slowed a bit. And maybe a little wiser.
Maybe “wiser” would’ve been a better word choice. That would’ve been just as accurate . . .