Blues Traveler - live

I love Blues Traveler. I love John Popper's pop sense, it is amazing. Few craft great three and four minute rocks better than Popper. I mean, Goo Goo Dolls are decent... but most of that is pussy rock. Blues Traveler do great catchy songs, that don't seem like sell out swill, probably because they write their own songs. Don't assume every song you hear on the radio was written by the person singing it. Like the old days, artists are bringing in ringers more and more.

Also, John Popper rocks the harp like no other alive. So, you can imagine how awesome a Blues Traveler show would be, right? Wrong. I have seen them twice, years apart. Both shows were the worst shows I have ever seen in rock. Were they having an off night? No, because they were doing what they do live... which is a mystery to me. So, how can one of my favorite studio bands be the absolute worst band live? Here is how:

The first thing is they don't play any hits, not a single one. This band has so many excellent songs, and the band hasn't cooled off. Just recently, a thin Popper knocked out 'Back in the Day'. In fact, I saw that tour... they didn't play it either. Now, a band should feel free to dig back into their catalogue, and not be tied to whatever Clear Channel may opt to shill, right? Of course, but for the love of god play a hit now and again. Here is the other beef, every song becomes an 18 minute hippie blues jam. You know, like a Phish or Dead concert. If you read here, you know I am a HUGE Deadhead. When you see the Dead, you expect some pointless jams and musical meandering. It's ok, we're all on drugs... and so were they. But Blues Traveler? John Popper is a right wing gun nut, so I didn't expect a jam session.

Lastly, he plays that harp incessantly. Both shows gave me a piercing headache. Popper doesn't sing in concert, nor does he play guitar (both of which he is awesome). No, a Blues Traveler show is a three hour harmonica solo... which is actually about six songs. Don't believe me? Check out 'Alone' on that Live disc they released a few years ago... it is still prattling on somewhere.

The band is going to be around for a long time, because Popper looks really healthy since his bypass surgery. So, here is my tip to save the band:

When playing live:

no song longer than 5 minutes

since the harmonica player is also the lead singer and rythym guitarist... song should not have more than 20% harmonica content

I want HITS > back in the day, hook, but anyway, run around, gina, alone

show lasts no longer than 90 minutes

So, that is my request to the band as a fan. Play the music I hear on the radio. Concerts are WAY too expensive to fuck around to hear someone tuning their instruments for three hours.

OR, and I am offering an OR... because I care. Blues Traveler needs to stop releasing really great music and just release those live tracks of songs going on for 18 to 25 minutes each where absolutely nothing is played or accomplished outside of constant piercing harmonica solos without verse, chorus, or melody. You have your assignment, boys. Not get out there and make some music, please.


Anonymous said…
Yep..thats a great more harmonica solos John...we want you to play guitar and sing like all the other frontmen. And you really need to shorten your songs...Id rather sit at home and hear some hip three minute ditties on the radio. Maybe Ill just pop in a CD and hear all the songs exactly the way I'm used to...Oh yeah, while your at it, I paid good money for these tickets..think you could shorten your show to 90 minutes so i can go home early and get ready for work in the morning? And if you are going to bust out a cool melody on your harp, would you mind turning it down a little..its drowning out the crowd...besides, I'm a little to old to be going to live shows but I'm to cheap to buy earplugs. Tell you what, why dont you just sit up there and play the top 2 songs off of all your albums note for note...thats all your REAL fans want to hear anyways. //end sarcasm// You, sir, are a downer to live music, and should save your ticket money for some nice noise cancelling earphones and a cd player so you can sit and hear all your favorite songs at a comfortable level..better yet, pick up an instrument yourself and see how much artistic talent goes into producing a whaling ten minute solo..especially on a blues harp.
Lono said…
See, here is the thing. You misinterpret my words. A well crafted blues solo on the harp is an amazing thing.

however, a THREE HOUR harmonica solo is basically a sonic ear bleed. I am a serious fan of the 'jam' millieu. 25 Dead shows (before Jerry kicked), several Phish shows, and 5 or 6 Dead shows post Jerry's death. Also, about 5 or 6 Dave Matthews shows (before they played stadium).

I appreciate a good jam, and I know one when I hear one. I am willing to bet you have not seen the Traveler live. Tell you what, I will save you the three hour ear bleed. Listen to Alone on their live disc from about 5 or 6 years ago. It is about 15 minutes. Total waste of time.

Know what else is a waste of time? Neil Young's solo on Cinamom Girl. The Grateful Dead's break jam on 'Cassidy'. These are utter wastes of my life for which I will not get time back.

In the jam world, it helps to have many 'virtousos'. This takes the work load and monotony out of one dude doing all the soloing. Watch Dave Matthews Band, the spread the love around the stage. Call it 'trading fours', but it keeps the jams fresh.

Also, what I meant to say is truly this > thanks for visiting and reading. Also, thanks for offering your feedback. I dig having these discussions, so please don't think I am dismissing your assesment out of hand. It is just that I am right. If you can tell me you have been to a Traveler show and did not leave with a migraine, I will apologize publically and profusely.

Anonymous said…
Hey everyone! I found really reasonably priced tickets for a concert in Readington, NJ on July 28th. Just wanted to spread the word. Look into the Quikchek Balloon Festival & check it out!

Anonymous said…
hey kids, i went to a Blues Traveler concert last night. It was the first time I'd ever heard of them or heard their music, and I thought it was amazing! If you feel the need for simple, idiotic melody lines that have no variation and no real skill required, don't go to their concerts. But you're just a simple-minded idiot who can't appreciate good music. Also, there were several guitar solos, keyboard solos, and even a couple of bass solos, as well as the AMAZING harmonica solos, and he sang a lot. So pretty much dude, you;re wrong.
Anonymous said…
Guys.. look wat i found out.. Blues Traveler will be performing and answering questions... watch them on A&E's Private Sessions at 9am EST this Sunday May 4, 2008.

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