Country music in NYC is always a treat and I’d been looking forward to seeing EYB at this show for a long time. The last few times I’ve seen them they opened for different pop country superstars – I want to say Kenny & Tim at Gillette Stadium and then Kenny and ZBB at the Georgia Dome. Before that I’d seen them as part of the Texas Independence Day line-up in NYC – pre-Life at Best and Crazy Girl – but I don’t think I’ve ever had the chance to see them headline.
Brooklyn Bowl turns out to be an absolutely awesome live music venue, and it was great to get to celebrate my sister’s birthday over some country. For about the first half of the concert we were bowling, which turned out to be a mixed blessing since while bowling is up there with country music among my favorite things, it was tough to focus on my pin action and give EYB the attention they deserve at the same time.
The set list, comprised of EYB’s “oldies”, stuff from their new album and a bunch of covers, felt unusual. In terms of old stuff, I couldn’t have asked for a much better song list – Jet Black & Jealous, Skeletons, Small Town Kid and Guinevere are some of my very favorites. Interestingly their set list had When It Rains on it too (one of my enduring favorites), but Skeletons was also penciled in and their sound guy said it was an EYB game time decision which of the two to play but that they wouldn’t play both. This old stuff is what I came for. Especially with this band, there are so many more classic songs I wish they’d have played – Radio Waves, Get in the Car and Drive, How Should I Know, So Close Now, Oklahoma Girl.
The new stuff, and by this I mean the Fingerprints songs, was difficult for me to appreciate since my familiarity with most of these songs (save Saltwater Gospel) was generally limited to my having listened to the album on Spotify a couple times over the preceding few days. Maybe it was this lack of familiarity that made the show feel a bit disjointed, rather than not liking the new songs. I suspect the former since EYB has such a solid track record of material and my sister likes the new album.
And then there were a whole bunch of covers which I didn’t quite understand, especially given how much gold of their own EYB has. When they first played David Lee Murphy’s Dust on the Bottle I said OK because that’s a great song, but they went on to play a strange mix of too many other covers including Come Together and No Woman No Cry mixed in with Small Town Kid. I definitely appreciate musical variety and it can be fun to see artists performing others’ work especially if it seems like they are really having fun with the material, but I didn’t love how the chosen songs were worked into and meshed with the set here.
All in all a fantastic concert. Eli Young Band is still one of the best, and seeing them live was a lot of fun. As a side note, EYB will be playing at 2018 TID in NYC – a welcome return to the event after an absence of a few years!