Warming up the crowd was Aaron Lee Tasjan who also released an album earlier this year and told the crowd he just had a birthday; he’s 37. Among his song selection was his song for his hero Kevn Kinney. Then “Strange Shadows” on the trail from his album Karma For Cheap. Then “I Love America Better Than You” (“her dirty water and her hotdogs too”), from Silver Tears. Then Tasjan switched to piano for “Feminine Walk.” Then “12 Bar Blues.” “It’s about 12 bars that I’ve been to,” he said to laughs, and he mentioned the 11th street bar in NYC.
When Todd Snider took the stage, wearing shoes, his first comment was amazement at the size of the crowd, and it was true. The Birchmere felt extra big and extra full, with hundreds of happy faces focused on the stage. Todd was characteristically somewhat circumspect, playing next to a vase of sunflowers, but at the same time he was completely attuned to the audience all night. He opened with a sweet “I Can’t Complain,” then told the audience about the movie Hard Luck Love Song that’s coming out and is based on Snider’s song “Just Like Old Times,” which he played next. And then the uber genius “Working on a Song.”
Todd Snider said he had written the Hardworking Americans’ song “Roman Candles” on his way to see Widespread Panic, with his echo of Rene Descartes’ “I think therefore I am.” He also said that the last show he played before the pandemic was here at the Birchmere, and thanked the crowd for getting vaccinated so we could all experience live music again.
Continuing the story of how, touring with Hardworking Americans one summer while he wrote songs, they spent the night at cash cabin, he told hilarious stories of walking in the woods looking for a song. “Day after day goes by like nothing is ever going to change. Then just like overnight it seems like nothing’s ever going to be the same,” “Just Like Overnight,” from Cash Cabin Sessions Vol. 3. This song is a truly profound consideration of the human condition.
Then he played the “Framed” song about a dollar bill in a frame at a bar after more wondrous storytelling, followed by the mournful “Sail On” from Snider’s new album, about the passing of Jeff Austin.
Todd Snider told the captivating story of Skip Litz going to all 4 bars in East Nashville calling out “play a train song,” and the genuine conditions of his death, before playing “Play a Train Song.” The night was only halfway started by this point, and he played several more songs, and took on the challenge of asking the audience for requests. He played the intricate and inspiring “Ballad of the Devil’s Backbone Tavern.”
At this point he played “I Spoke As A Child” from his 1994 debut album. Although “Alright Guy” appeared on that album, he doesn’t play “I Spoke As A Child” as often, as he noted. Someone in the audience shouted out a “thank you” to him for playing all those Sunday sessions during lockdown. Then he did play “Alright Guy,” which had the whole audience singing along. For the next handful of songs see the setlist below.
For encores he spoke about John Prine, and played two song on piano: “Handsome John,” and “Fish and Whistle.”
There was a warmth and ease about the show. And a love reflected back by the audience. Godspeed to Todd Snider on the rest of his tour. Catch him if you can!
Find tour dates and more information, here: https://toddsnider.net
Todd Snider Live
August 31, 2021
I Can’t Complain
[Hard Luck Love Song]
Just Like Old Times
Working On A Song
[Sock Water Story]
Just Like Overnight
[Alone In A Bar Story]
Sail On, My Friend
[Skip Litz Story]
Play A Train Song
[Being Outdoors Story]
Ballad Of The Devil’s Backbone Tavern
Spoke As A Child
Waco Moon >
Old Chunk Of Coal
Alright Guy >
[Alcohol Unanimous Story]> Alright Guy
[John Prine Stories]
Handsome John > *
Fish and Whistle *
* on piano
Set list courtesy of Rza￼￼ Bella