January 12, 2010

Rock Over Boston | Grant Hart | Middle East | 1.11.10

Grant Hart
Just yesterday, Bill Janovitz was talking on his great blog about how hard it is to write great 'simple' songs. In my comment, that this seems to be "especially true for songwriters with long careers - so many try a little too hard to avoid repeating themselves that their songs get a little complicated for their own good. Wilco might be a good example of this. How great and fun was Being There? I'm still a fan, and do like their recent records more than most, but they do require more patience and work to listen to. Which is not to say that all simple songs are good, of course; there's definitely an art to doing it just right."

Janovitz was talking about singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester, but he could have just as easily been talking about Grant Hart. He's a guy that still sparks those Lennon/McCartney or Tweedy/Farrar sorts of debates for his part in Husker Du, which is silly since we can - and do! - have both (Full disclosure: I have engaged in these sort of debates from time to time). Hart's albums and visits are so infrequent that this reminder of how much he can do with just a few chords and some great melodies was long overdue.

Last night's generous nearly 90 minute set had them in spades. Hart was here in support of his excellent recent album Hot Wax, which has these sort of simple chord progressions and vocal hooks that he can still put a new spin on. These were well represented last night with "Barbara," "California Zehpyr," and the cabaret swing of "I Knew All About You Since Then." There were the hits too - or many of them, at least: Hart covered a lot of ground with Huskers faves "Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill," "Don't Want To Know If You Are Lonely," and a breezy "Books About UFOs," along with Nova Mob tracks "Last Days of Pompeii" and "Werner Von Braun," and earlier solo nuggets like "2541," "Evergreen Memorial Drive," and "Run Run Run to the Centre Pompidou." And, oh yeah: "Teen Angel." And "Wild Thing." There was no "Green Eyes" but you can't have everything, I suppose.

And that guitar... Man, did Hart's Gibson hollow body sound gnarly, brutal, glorious, and, well, kind of awesome through the Vox he was borrowing from opener Mike Gent. I could - and did - have my face melted by that sound all night.

-Michael Piantigini

Grant Hart: Intertubes | MySpace
Mike Gent: MySpace

1 comment:

mad angel said...

Wasn't he extraordinary? It took me twenty years to finally get to hear him play. (Young kids, no babysitter, hectic performance schedule of my own back in the day, and no internet to give me advance notice of a show.) At the price of the tickets, do you realize we only paid about $0.38 per song? That kind of generosity is a rare thing in this day and age. Of course, now I'm dying to see him again, and bumming because it's likely to be awhile before I do.