HT faves God Street Wine used every tool at their disposal including fan favorites, rarities, guests and fun covers to cook up three outstanding shows at NYC’s Gramercy Theatre this past weekend that the band’s legion of devoted “Winos” won’t forget any time soon. The ’90s jam act never had the biggest following in the world, but those who were passionate about the band’s music formed a tight-knit community that never wavered in their devotion. Winos kept in touch throughout GSW’s long layoff and came together in hopes of reuniting the group that meant so very much to them. This devotion has paid off with a Coast-To-Coast reunion that lived up to all expectations and left the fans satisfied while still hoping for more in the future.
[Photo by Jeremy Gordon]
Following Thursday’s impressive opening show, GSW upped the ante on Friday and then went for gold at Saturday’s finale. Each performance started in a different fashion with the band members arriving on stage to the Seinfeld theme on Thursday, poet Frank Messina introducing GSW with a poem on Friday and a video from GSW’s earliest days preceding Saturday’s first song. Like the best tour guides, God Street Wine not only showed us the major points of interest from their repertoire over the the course of the three nights but they also shined a light on those tunes that were off-the-beaten-path yet worth exploring. It was hard to think of a classic tune that wasn’t played during the run.
- Previously: God Street Wine Brought Back…Again
- Videos: Girl On Fire, Home Again, Late In The Evening, Wendy, Dirty Little Secret, Thirsty, Won’t Get Fooled Again
The five original members of GSW were augmented by many additional musicians at the Gramercy. Percussionist John Wood of Native, former member multi-instrumentalist Jason Crosby and outstanding vocalist Lizzy Friel backed the original five for most of the run. Strangefolk guitarist Reid Genauer emerged at the end of the first set on Saturday and absolutely slayed the vocals on GSW original Borderline, while a three-piece horn section helped out on two of the songs from Saturday’s epic first encore – Paul Simon’s Late In The Evening and Into The Mystic by Van Morrison. GSW also varied the lineups as while most of the run featured the OG five with Crosby, Friel and Wood; they performed some songs as the original five, others with just Crosby at their side and even offered a Maxwell/Faber duet on the Thirsty that opened Friday’s second set.
The improvisation also progressed as the run went on. An absolutely scorching sequence of Drive West > Goodnight Gretchen > Diana that ended the second set on Friday was filled with sizzling guitar work from the pair of Aaron Maxwell and Lo Faber. Drive West gave us a peek at what GSW’s improvisations might have sounded like if the band never parted ways as it had a jam that had funk and electro elements that were never present during the group’s heyday. Another transcendent improvisational highlight came out of R U 4 Real on Saturday night and the ensemble kept the jamfire burning into Beautiful Lies.
Friday, August 17
Set One: Frank Messina reading his poetry, Epilog, Hammer and Spike, Funny Kinda Love, Fortress of Solitude -> Call It Love, Chop!, Other Shore > Princess Henrietta
Set Two: Thirsty duet Lo and Aaron, Change Your Mind, Dirty Little Secret, She Comes Up Softly, Crazy Head, Girl on Fire > Drive West > Goodnight Gretchen > Diana
Encore: Edgar, Feel Like a Stranger
Encore 2: Home Again, Won’t Get Fooled Again
Saturday, August 18
Set One: God Street, Better Than You, Wall, Seeing Your Meaning > Stone House, Angeline, Light My Candles, Borderline*
Set Two: Candyman, When She Go, Fourth of July, Please Don’t Speak of These Things, Are You For Real > Good Dream, Beautiful Lies, Epiphany > Waiting for the Tide
Encore: Romeo and Juliet, Late in the Evening**, Into the Mystic**
Encore2: Feel the Pressure, Into the Sea
* w Reid Genauer on vox and guitar
** w horns Jeff Hermanson, Matthew Ellis and Jeff Countryman
Setlists Compiled by Eric Budke
[Photo by Joe Madonna]
Saturday night’s crowd was the rowdiest and that played right into the band’s hands for the Waiting For The Tide that brought the second set to a close. Just as they did during the 2010 reunion, the assembled Winos bounced up and down and sang the “whoa, whoa, whoa” refrain at the top of their lungs making for an unforgettable moment. Taking from their time at TRI Studios, GSW turned in spot-on covers of Feel Like A Stranger (sung by drummer Tom “Tomo” Osander) on Friday and Candyman on Saturday. Other covers included Won’t Get Fooled Again by The Who on Friday and the aforementioned Late In The Evening and Into The Mystic (as well as a tender take on Dire Straits’ Romeo and Juliet) on Saturday.
A second encore of GSW originals Feel The Pressure and Into The Sea brought the run to a close a bit after midnight on Saturday evening. Unlike Thursday it seemed like no one had left early and the band received a well-deserved standing ovation that lasted nearly five minutes. As recently as four years ago no one saw this reunion coming, let alone two of ‘em. What the band and fanbase has here is something special and unprecedented in rock. There’s no reason to think another reunion won’t follow in due time.
[Photo by Joe Madonna]
After the reunion shows wrapped up, the members of God Street Wine each shared their appreciation for the fans on the Bring Back God Street Wine Facebook page.
Dan Pifer, bassist: ”Hey folks, the last couple of weeks were just amazing. Thank you for all the great energy and for giving us so much to come back for, each time we get together and play is a gift.”
Jason Crosby, multi-instrumentalist: “ Thanks so much to God Street Wine band, crew, management, and fans for making the last two weeks so damn special. Can’t wait to do it again!”
Aaron “Maxwell” Lieberman, guitar: “I have cherished every moment of these last two weeks. Thanks to crew and management for taking great care to make sure everything ran like ‘a Swiss watch.’ Thanks to my musical comrades for continued inspiration and for keeping me on my toes. Thank you to a couple of musical heroes, who provided me and the band an opportunity i will not soon forget, and thank you to the fans, whose dedication and appreciation brought out the best in all of us. Until next time, Aaron”
Tom Osander, drums: “Thank you all for making the last couple of weeks such a blast.
It was a joy and an honor to make music with my old friends and a pleasure to play for such a gracious audience. Lovely to travel back in time and also into the future, all from the comfort of my drum seat (with no spaceship required).
Until the next time, be well all. T.”
Jon “Bevo” Liebowitz, piano: “Thanks to all for an absolutely magical two weeks. Band, guests, management, and especially…the GSW fans. Until next time…”
Lo Faber, guitar: “Still recovering, still processing, tired, but happy. I’ll have more to say soon but for now huge thx & respect to band crew family friends & fans. In the next few weeks we should be seeing & hearing lots of pics, audio & video, some posted here, some elsewhere, some from the last couple weeks & maybe some special things from the 1990s as well. Keep an eye here. Much love. Lo”