Jeff Bridges & the Abiders Warehouse Live April 12, 2014
Sometime during Jeff Bridges' headlining set at Warehouse Live on Saturday night, things just seemed to click. It took a little bit for the band to warm up to the room, and more specifically the room to warm up to the band, but after that happened this show became a good one.
I'm not sure if it took the crowd getting over the fact that Jeff Bridges was standing in front of them, but when people finally did get over his celebrity and stopped shouting quotes from The Big Lebowski at the stage, things seemed to fall into place and it became a real show.
Not that Bridges and his aptly named band the Abiders were churning out bad tunes, it just seemed to bore the audience at first -- one that seemed quite excited about the performance heading into the start. Could be that most of the crowd paid the hefty ticket price just to get a glimpse of Bridges or yell inaudible movie quotes at him, but after they realized that it wasn't just him acting out his "Dude" persona, the unrest throughout the room was noticeable.
Most likely people were unfamiliar with anything he's ever done musically save for the few songs he sang in the 2009 film Crazy Heart, which maybe half the crowd might have seen. People were there to see Jeff Bridges be Jeff Bridges, and didn't realize they were getting such a genre-specific two-hour performance of his own original music.
And that two hours was jam-packed with folk- and country-based Americana, a genre that wasn't necessarily digestible to the audience in attendance Saturday. But halfway through the show, those unimpressed by the music decided to take off and those still enthralled by either Bridges' celebrity or what he was feeding them musically were afforded a bit more space to swing their elbows.
After that, you could tell the band knew who they were playing for, and upon realizing that brought a bit more heat to their playing. The Jeff Bridges show was over and it was time for The Abiders to shine.
Review continues on the next page.
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And shine they did. They tackled material from Bridges' two albums, 2000's Be Here Soon and 2011's eponymous release produced by T-Bone Burnett, as well as a few different cuts he performed as "Bad Blake" in the aforementioned Crazy Heart. He even added his own touch on Ryan Bingham's "The Weary Kind," which was featured as that film's theme song.
But it seemed like Bridges and the Abiders were having the most fun playing the music of their idols. They made Tom Waits' "Never Let Go" sound like a Warren Zevon B-side. A jangly take on Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Lookin' Out My Back Door" had the room moving, as did a spot-on version of the Byrds' "So You Want To Be a Rock and Roll Star." But it was a rousing set-closing version of Bob Dylan's "The Man In Me," popularized by that one film Bridges did about bowling, that really made the audience, specifically the hangers-on who were still there for his celebrity, go wild.
Thankfully, those who were a bit apprehensive about the direction of the show after the first couple of songs, including myself for a brief moment, were treated to a one-of-a-kind performance of dad-rock and country that left the room with something of a bit more substance other than just a random run-in with a major movie star. Bridges really showed his love for music over the course of his set, and if allowed would have played his guitar and sang his favorites until 3 in the morning.
Personal Bias: I, like most, was there mainly to share the same space as Jeff Bridges. But, I left with a pure appreciation of what he brings to the stage, and understand why he wants to and deserves to be singing songs in front of a live audience. He is a talent musically, and with the help of a couple ringers he calls the Abiders, should continue to draw crowds and find fans of more than just his work as an actor.
The Crowd: A bunch of 30- to 60-year-olds drinking white Russians, with a few even sporting robes.
Overheard in the Crowd: "The Dude" 294 times. And that was just between the box office and the front door.
Random Notebook Dump: I feel it would be criminal to leave out that he finished the night with Townes Van Zandt's "To Live Is To Fly." It's one of the greatest songs ever written, beautifully played this night, and sent me off into the evening warmth in such high spirits.
1000 Year Plan What a Little Bit of Love Can Do Somebody Else Exception to the Rule I Don't Know Whip Van Gogh Slow Boat What Happens... Never Let Go (Tom Waits cover) Blue Car Fallin' & Flyin' The Quest Lookin' Out My Back Door (CCR Cover) Maybe I Missed the Point The Weary Kind (Ryan Bingham cover) So You Want to Be A Rock and Roll Star (The Byrds cover) The Man In Me (Bob Dylan cover)
To Live Is to Fly (Townes Van Zandt cover)
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