Bill Callahan’s drummer, by comparison, takes a little longer to find his somewhat delicate groove on the skins. Callahan, who throughout the ’90s and early 2000s recorded and performed under the name Smog, has gone on to release another six albums under his own name.
His hushed, carefully considered lyrics are delivered gently and his bandmates, particularly the drummer, have quite a task simply not getting in the way of their band leader. Early on there’s a slight sense of tripping up, the bass thunders a little too loudly and Callahan’s distinctive baritone falls a little too heavily on the ears. The mix, too often blamed when things are a bit off kilter, takes a few songs to settle and eventually there’s greater cohesion on stage.
America! with its references to David Letterman, marines and Captain Kristofferson is the closest of Callahan’s songs you’ll get to a singalong, while Camels from last year’s Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest is among this night’s highlights; the drummer in a neat groove and guitarist Matt Kinsey, hunched over his Gibson, now in lockstep with Callahan.
Too Many Birds helps bring the show to a splendid close as Callahan declares “you’ve been a delightful audience,” before a typical long pause, then adding “and we’ve been a delightful band”.