Buffalo Tom are in the UK to play three shows only. Bristol, London and Birmingham. After much effort (not mine) I have a pass for the Birmingham gig and I'm so excited. I guess the band are over here to promote their latest album Quiet And Peace but I also sense that they are not massively concerned with record sales but are totally content to play to packed small venues to passionate die-hard fans that have loved the band for thirty years and more. I am one such fan. So much for objectivity then.
Accompanying the Bostonian trio on their three date micro-tour are the Liverpool based collective Sunstack Jones. Tonight they are appearing as a five piece band which apparently isn't always the case. They play a brief but enchanting set. At first they seem a curious choice to open for a powerful rock trio such as Buffalo Tom. But the Captain Beefheart/Buffalo Springfield vibe that I get from the show provides the musical common ground the connects the two bands. It's a gentle warm up and most pleasant.
Now to the main event. I've seen Buffalo Tom play live many times so it's no surprise to find Bill Janovitz in a jovial mood, addressing the audience as if we all know each other. After uttering a few words of introductions and thanks, the band erupts into Treehouse. Chris Colburn's bass sweetly cuts through the mix as Bill's two Marshall amps roar and Tom Maginnis' drum kit pounds out into the club. Next is Summer. Another high octane sing-along tune of which this band have many. Mineral follows from the 1992 masterpiece album Let Me Come Over. The band are in great form. Next a change of pace as Chris sings She's Not Your Thing from the 2011 album Skins.
We are eight songs into the set before we hear Roman Cars from the new album, confirming my belief that this band are playing for our mutual enjoyment rather than to promote their latest work. All the members are employed in other professions so they are part time rock-stars and seem quite comfortable in their own skins. Their experience is tangible. Larry is next. Perhaps my favourite Buffalo Tom song so I'm super happy and feeling quite emotional. All Be Gone and See High The Hemlock Grows also from the new album are played towards the end of the main set. Tangerine and Taillights Fade round off act one. The club is bouncing and I sense there will be a riot if we don't get more.
Encore one kicks off with Freckles. Then CatVMouse, another relatively mellow song that Chris Colburn sings. Following that is the dreamy b-side Crutch. Staples is the last song and sees the band finishing the set with the same energy that they started with. Most impressive for middle-aged part-timers. Still the crowd want more. The boys return one final time and play us a cover of the New Order song Age Of Consent.
I've never seen Buffalo Tom play a bad show and they certainly didn't disappoint on this evening. The packed middle room at the O2 Institute is full of smiling people some of whom (myself included) are a little teary eyed.
She's Not Your Thing
All Be Gone
Age of Consent (New Order)