The Detour’s A.K. on five of his favorite area concerts of 2016
1. They Might Be Giants at the Slowdown in Omaha, March 22
Third time seeing TMBG. This near-constant touring band was promoting both albums that came out of the Dial-A-Song project, where they released (or re-released) one song per week for the entire calendar year of 2015. “Phone Power” was the adult-targeted album, “Why?” was aimed at kids. The band provided these songs to all members of the “Dial-A-Song Radio Network” as a free weekly download which were dutifully played on The Detour each week that year. It was the usual high-energy show, with lots of interaction with the audience, comedy, and as always they played songs throughout their career that even their oldest fans wanted to hear like “Birdhouse in Your Soul.” They played songs from 17 albums during this show. http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/they-might-be-giants/2016/slowdown-omaha-ne-3bf024f0.html
2. Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band at the Pinewood Bowl, June 25
Wasn’t planning on going to this due to high ticket prices, but when they dropped to $22, it seemed too good to pass up. Ringo did his complement of songs, both from his solo career and The Beatles, and each of the “All-Starrs” also did a couple of songs from their previous bands/careers. My main draw was Todd Rundgren, who did “I Saw the Light,” “Bang the Drum All Day,” and “Love is the Answer.” Gregg Rollie, keyboards (and vocals) from Santana was awesome. The finale was a drizzle-through-the-spotlights, magical version of “With a Little Help from My Friends.” Massive sing-along. http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/ringo-starr-and-his-all-starr-band/2016/pinewood-bowl-amphitheater-lincoln-ne-3fe41d7.html
3. Lyle Lovett and His Large Band at the Rococo, July 16
Second time for Mr. Lovett & company. The Rococo is much more comfortable at a table. We got a good loge location off to one side. They played a goodly measure of Lyle country songs with lyrics that make my wife cry, and a fair amount of gospel songs, some accompanied by a small Baptist choir from Omaha. Watched the fandom in the alley afterward with much amusement. So many selfies. Best was a kamikaze kiss on the cheek from a woman in red — surprised Lyle gave a delayed wipe-off as they got back on the bus.
4. Richard Thompson and Bonnie Raitt at Pinewood Bowl, September 6
Richard Thompson (touring for “Still”) cannot have an adequately long set. He always leaves the audience wanting more. His guitar skills alone deserve hours. Delivered an excellent version of “1952 Vincent Black Lightning.” Bonnie put on a fiery set of new (“Dig in Deep”) and old material. A largely mellow set from a blues woman who’s paid her dues for decades, and STILL has those slide guitar chops. Bonnie has a great, raspy, soulful singing style and some wicked blues guitar riffs.
5. Susan Werner and Sara Watkins at the Lied, November 30
Ms. Werner has a quick wit and a way with sarcastic lyrics. Her latest, “Hayseed,” is said to be about farmers and the people who love them (she hails from Iowa). Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek (her brother and Chris Thile) was touring for her latest solo effort called “Young in All the Wrong Ways.” She displayed her talents on guitar, fiddle, and ukulele, and is pretty damn good at all three — but really shines on fiddle. Great little bluegrass aside on a single really good microphone. When requested to play a traditional tune, she asked the man to choose between two versions of the song. Kind of hard to decipher the lyrics in this venue, but Sara has a beautiful voice. Woefully under-attended.