On Golden Smog

Golden Smog, the Paradise, September 18, 2006
By TOM KIELTY  |  September 19, 2006

Golden Smog

Among the most attractive traits of the Minneapolis roots collective Golden Smog has always been their relaxed approach to music. Having achieved varied degrees of success in such acts as Wilco, Soul Asylum, and the Jayhawks, the members of the Smog feel no stress about their occasional releases; their tours feel like an easy excuse for a bunch of old buddies to get together and do what they love.

So, if Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy decided to sit this round out, there didn’t seem to be much disappointment on stage or among the devoted gathered at the Paradise last night. Tweedy does appear on the band’s latest, Another Fine Day (Lost Highway), but his absence from live performances did nothing to diminish a raucous two hour set. It may have even been for the best — the easygoing repartee between Dan Murphy (Soul Asylum), Kraig Johnson (Run Westy Run) and Gary Louris and Marc Perlman (Jayhawks) would have given the tortured Tweedy far too many opportunities to smile.

And smiles were in abundance as Golden Smog showcased the diversity of their most recent effort and dipped into a short list catalog full of dynamic hooks and smart — and smart-assed — lyrics.  The group moved easily through their own smashing barroom paean, “V,” and the Three Dog Night soft rock classic, “Easy To Be Hard” with equal skill. 

The ringing “Frying Pan Eyes,” with Johnson lyrically dissecting a drug casualty, was the ideal vehicle for the band’s three-guitar attack to take flight, and the pounding drums of “Corvette” could’ve delivered this model from the showroom to the arena.  The influence of ’70’s rock has always been in prominent in the Smog ethos and it didn’t take covers of David Bowie’s “Starman” and Neil Young’s “Revolution Blues” to reinforce that these are some serious record aficionados.

This was best illustrated when, during the encore, a fan asked if the band knew any Foghat.  “Uh, yeah,” Louris initially shrugged.  “That song from ‘Dazed and Confused.”  Instantly the band launched into “Slow Ride” before segueing to Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine.” (Clapton had been an ongoing joke after Johnson’s mid-set quip: “What do Clapton and coffee have in common? They both suck without Cream.”) They concluded with Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear The Reaper.” This sloppy medley was a glorious reminder that Golden Smog shares more than a hometown with the Replacements.

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