Best Show In Years....

The Jesus Lizard show last night at the Pheonix is probably the best show I have seen in years. All expectations, which were set pretty damn high, were blown away. I cannot believe how tight they were. David Yow was on FIRE. Dove into the audience a good 30 seconds into the show. Got carried right by us and made it to the soundboard, and ran back as we patted him on the back. Having Ian Blurton rocking out right in front of us only made this experience even more fun.

If you have the chance, for the love of God, go see them. I am still on a high.

Eye Weekly gave them 5 stars. NO SHIT!!

The Jesus Lizard’s notoriously unhinged singer David Yow is truly, as Hunter S. Thompson would say, “one of God’s own prototypes; a high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live and too rare to die.”

They sure don’t make ’em like Yow anymore — and yes that’s a massive understatement, but it still needs to be said. Given that Yow's pushing 50 and fronting a reunion tour for a band that’s been inactive since the turn of the century — all this after a second career as a photoshop retoucher and a brief comeback stint with a band called Qui — one might be tempted to use words like “mid”, “life” and “crisis” to describe him. But Yow proves his worth within seconds of the curtain’s parting as the Jesus Lizard bring their much anticipated reformation to the Phoenix. With a savage glint in his eye, the frontman to end all frontmen jumps headlong into the crowd, delivering the first half of “Puss” in the arms of his audience.

Though the rest of the band members give Yow and his antics a wide, wide berth, their importance cannot be stressed enough. Duane Denison’s idiosyncratic riffs and twitchy leads are the core of the Lizard’s sound, while drummer Mac McNeilly’s hard-hitting style is an impeccable mix of Dave Grohl and Helmet/Battles basher John Stainer — basically, everything that was good about alt-rock drumming in the ’90s, except way better. Their playing is both technically flawless and thoroughly punishing; the mix of sleazy grooves and post-hardcore aggression has the front of stage crowd swaying like inmates in a prison riot.

As for the set, it’s perfectly paced, so that whenever one of the slow-burning songs grinds the pace to a sociopathic creepy-crawl, the band delivers a quick succession of sucker punches like the crooked intro riff to “Boilermaker.” “Seasick” finds Yow once again clambering across the crowd, shouting “I can swim” on his intimate journey all the way to the soundboard. Back on stage, “Mouth Breather” hits with all the right notes with its lowbrow intensity, followed by a swinging romp through “Dancing Naked Ladies.” Everything gets a little blurry, and sweaty, about mid-way through the set, but “7 vs. 8,” a cover of Chrome’s “TV As Eyes” and personal favourite “Gladiator” add fuel to this already raging inferno.

All of which is peppered with Yow’s hilarious banter; whether quoting from the movie Babe (“That’ll do pig, that’ll do”) complaining about the perils of crowd-surfing (“Which one of you cocksuckers is going to pay for my shirt? In the business, that’s what we call a rhetorical question”) or extolling the virtues of local opening band Brides (“the best band we’ve played with on this tour, in my humble opinion”), his delivery is somewhere between cranky uncle and Hell’s Angel.

After closing out the set with McNeilly's Bonham-worthy indie-rock drum solo, the band return for a healthy second helping. Goat
’s opener “Then Comes Dudley” is the highlight of the encore, where Jesus Lizard also reach back to their debut EP Pure for “Bloody Mary” and “Blockbuster” — the latter of which finds Yow pulling his pants down to a nearly indecent level during the explicit sing-along: “Do you think you’d like that? Well do ya motherfucker?”

The Jesus Lizard not only top my list of this year’s best reunions, last night’s show could also have been the best concerts I’ve seen all year.

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  1. Agreed - it was a tight show for sure. Yow passed right by me when he was near the soundboard.

    Also, not that loud/distorted, the mix was very well managed. I didn't even wear earplugs. I took a reading on the floor at 95-100db whereas the Butthole Surfers the month before was at 115-120db.

    They pretty much played everything. Best reunion tour by any band. Looking back to the Pixies a few years ago, that conncert now seems like the backstreet boys compared with last night's Jesus Lizard.

  2. I am still beyond pumped up from that show. I too was right by Yow when he made his way to the soundboard. There is a video on youtube of it. I wish I could go see them in montreal tonight.