Sloan w/ Galore @ St. Andrew's Hall in Detroit, MI on November 11, 2011
Sloan made their first Detroit appearance in two years last night. They came on at a refreshingly early 9:15 P.M. I am getting too old for these club shows, so the oldster in me was happy that the show ended just before 11. The set ran slightly under 100 minutes. This was billed as their 20th anniversary tour, and their latest album, The Double Cross, is a play on the XX (Roman numerals for 20) which was on the backdrop. They covered every album except for Smeared, and did 8 of the 12 songs off of The Double Cross.
The show started off with the first 3 songs off of the new album, Follow The Leader, The Answer Was You and Unkind. The new songs sound much better live than they do on album. Next up was an oldie that I've never heard them do live before, The Marquee and the Moon. Everything You've Done Wrong is one they could drop in my opinion. I have heard them do it so many times over the years, and there are so many Sloan songs that I haven't heard them do before and would rather hear. Take Good Care of the Poor Boy was another rarity. I saw them do that one at the Bayfest in Sarnia. Ontario circa Pretty Together. The Rest of My Life and Ill Placed Trust kept things moving along. I really enjoy how all four members sing lead and write their own songs. Sloan is the greatest collaborative solo project in the history of Rock.
They brought the fifth Sloan, a keyboard player, along. This minimized the musical chairs, although Andrew Scott came out from behind the drum kit and took center stage, singing and playing guitar for 5 songs in a row. He's my favorite Sloan, although I enjoy all of their songs. The N.S. Is one of those songs that I never get tired of hearing live. It's a flawless song from my favorite era of the band. I've Gotta Try, She's Slowing Down Again, Emergency 911, and Traces rounded out the Andrew portion of the show. He returned to his drum kit after that. I really wanted to hear Living With the Masses, but no such luck. That's okay. Sloan always changes up their set, with it being at least 50% different every time.
Sloan is so much better live than they are on album. Even their worst song has a bounce and a throb to it live that so many bands lack. Sloan makes you want to move. Gimme That is a perfect example of this, as the Action Pact album thuds rather than throbs. Those songs have always shined in the live setting, and it makes me think that the mastering was the culprit for that release. I am an absolute sucker for the Jay Ferguson songs, and Don't You Believe A Word ranks right up there with his best.
Believe In Me is one they could drop, along with everything else off of Parallel Play. That album is the weak link in their catalog. The Life of a Working Girl was done in a bizarre, fast, full band arrangement. It sounded like It's In Your Eyes musically with that song's lyrics. Different and neat.
It's Plain To See, Beverly Terrace and Shadow of Love concluded the new songs portion of the evening. Beverly Terrace has a reprise of the Shadow of Love chorus towards the end, as it is sequenced several tracks later than S of L. For the live show they had S of L kick in as soon as the song was done, and it was fantastic. Who Taught You To Live Like That? And The Good In Everyone rounded out the set proper.
The encore was a Chris/ Andrew Deeper Than Beauty, followed by Chester the Molester off of the vastly underrated Navy Blues album. Add The Lines You Amend to the pile of “tired of hearing this one live.” Everyone enjoys this song, so maybe I should just shut up. Or not. Money City Maniacs almost brought the roof down, as the crowd was way into it. Black Sabbath had just announced that they were reuniting for a new album and tour next year on 11.11.11, and it was doubtless that Sloan did an outro/tease of War Pigs at the end for this reason. I know that the fellas like their '70s Rock, but there is zero Black Sabbath influence in their sound, so it was a genuine surprise.
So all in all a good, solid show. It wasn't the best time that I've seen Sloan, nor was it the worst. It was the worst attendance that I've ever seen at a Detroit Sloan show, though. They've sold this place out at least twice in the past but weren't even close this time.
Chris Murphy stated during the show that they will be touring next year and doing the entire Twice Removed album. This coincides with what the merchandise guy told me about the Twice Removed box set. The album will be remastered and it will contain everything. It sounds like it will be available on vinyl and CD. No plans for a physical release for the Hit & Run EP or B-Sides Win at this time. I did see the super limited official bootleg vinyl (limited to 300 copies) there but passed. I'm more of a CD guy and didn't want to buy and basically hoard a copy when there are many diehard vinyl Sloan fans who would want it. I'm thoughtful like that.