Band of Horses opened up the second leg of their summer 2010 tour in support of Infinite Arms at the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville on Monday. As Ben Bridwell took the stage with acoustic guitar in hand, he informed the crowd
“We’re going to start out slow and see if muscle memory takes over.”
The opening song was For Annabelle from the latest album. It’s a great song and served mainly to build the tension in the grand old ballroom filled with an odd mix of college kids, sorority girls, thirtysomethings and tween age kids. As the opening strains of Ode to the LRC rang out, the full band walked onstage, and the rock show began.
What struck me first and strongest about Band of Horses live is how much harder the songs were than what came across on the albums. From the second song on, there weren’t any acoustic numbers. The acoustic guitar that started the show was handed off for a series of Les Pauls. Even the slow songs had a sharp, biting edge that surprised me. Ben Bridwell’s vocals and guitar were impressive, as were all the musicians. Apart from a few early vocal miscues, the band sounded tight and polished.
Highlights were plentiful. Among the best was Older, a twang filled ode to the best laid plans and broken dreams that conjured up the early seventies Nashville sound, and I can only imagine made Conway Twitty smile somewhere.
Northwest Apartment upped the energy level, and got the crowd fired up. After that came the meat of the show. The band charged forcefully through a sing along version of The General Specific that had the crowd outshouting the band, into a poignant No One’s Gonna Love You that was dripping with regret. They closed out the set with Funeral, and it was still clearly the crowd favorite.
The encore was strong, but it seemed that the momentum built throughout the set couldn’t be topped, and the band wasn’t even going to try. The night ended with some of the slower material of the evening, and that was perfectly fine. A great show in a historic venue from a great band.