Age and mortality are on the minds of many in the age of COVID, but the Avett Brothers have a way of acknowledging that while showing their audiences a great time.
In the first of a three-show stint Thursday that ends the 50th anniversary season for Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, the group treated a sellout crowd to a two-hour, 27-song set that left audiences wanting more on a chilly fall-like evening. The Avetts have long been one of the most popular groups to visit the Vienna, Va., venue, with only scattered tickets remaining for tonight’s show. (Saturday’s performance is a private concert as part Wolf Trap’s annual fundraising gala.)
Playing without an opening act, the show started with Seth and Scott Avett performing solo renditions of Chris Cornell’s “Preaching the End of the World” and “Forever Just Beyond” before bringing the rest of the band out for a raucous “Satan Pulls the Strings” from 2016’s “True Sadness,” their first number one album.
By the show’s end, the band had performed four songs each from “True Sadness” (including the lovely closer “No Hard Feelings”) and 2007’s “Emotionalism” as well as tracks from seven other albums. Covers included the traditional instrumental “Old Joe Clark” and Ola Belle Reed’s “I’ve Endured.”
Bass player Bob Crawford , one of the band’s founding members, shined on “Old Joe Clark” and later performed several songs as part of a trio with the Avetts, during which they talked about reaching middle age. (Crawford, like Wolf Trap, is 50 this year, while the Avetts are in their 40s.)
Violin player Tania Elizabeth soloed on “Le Reel Du Pendu/Les Bars De La Prison,” while cellist Joe Kwon, pianist Bonnie Avett-Rini and drummer Mike Marsh provided strong support throughout the evening.
Having seen and photographed the group on their last three tours, my appreciation for the Avetts’ catalogue and worldview has continued to grow. Especially now.
Find their tour and other info on the Avett Brothers here: https://www.theavettbrothers.com