Concert Review: Pete Yorn And Ben Kweller, House Of Blues Anaheim

Pete Yorn by Eric Paulsen-2
Pete Yorn. Photos by Eric Paulsen.

REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY:  ERIC PAULSEN

Pete Yorn is that performer who can cause some to swoon with his stage presence and charm while he makes others nod in approval of his rock and roll chops and musical grit.

Yorn played the final California show of his extended tour at The House of Blues in Anaheim on Sunday, April 10, 2011, in support of his recently released self-titled album, produced by Frank Black of the Pixies. The fifth album for Yorn is a bit of a departure from previous efforts as it is more of a stripped-down rock sound that cuts closely to the personal side of the artist.

Yorn has explained several times during the tour that the album was actually recorded just before the sessions for his fourth album, Back and Fourth. He apparently got a call from Black who invited him to Oregon to record in the short amount of time before Yorn left to record Back and Fourth. The songs for the current album, then, predate the songs on Back and Fourth and were written and recorded with little editing or studio trickery.  When accepted on those terms, the album is brilliant and the supporting tour is full of an immediacy and urgency that many rock shows lack.

Yorn opened the show with The Smith’s “Panic” and then transitioned into his own “Precious Stone.” Yorn was in a story-telling mood, sometimes plucking his way through bits of songs and explaining the inspiration for others. At one point, he mumbled the beginning chords and melody of Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart.” Yorn said, “I think of this next song as sort of a prequel to ‘Hungry Heart,’” and then launched into “Don’t Wanna Cry.”

Yorn, a New Jersey native transplanted to Los Angeles, brings together the talents of drummer Scott Seiver, bassist Zak Schaffer and guitarist Mark Noseworthy to highlight the subtle nuances in his songs. Each of the musicians has played with Yorn on previous tours and they work well together as a backing band.

Yorn shared the story of how he wrote “For Nancy,” a song that, according to Yorn, seemed to write itself within a matter of minutes as he strummed on a newly acquired guitar with the name Nancy etched on its back. “For Nancy” was just one of many songs played from Yorn’s first album, Music For The Morning After. Yorn mentioned that he was celebrating the 10-year anniversary of that album with a newly re-mastered rerelease.

The crowd clearly enjoyed the song selection of the night and could be heard singing along to most of the songs. Yorn said, “It feels like Saturday night to me,” and, though, it was Sunday, the enthusiasm for Yorn’s playing remained strong through the entire set. He was interrupted multiple times by people yelling, “We love you!” and he engaged the audience in playful banter at several points, displaying his wedding ring while replying, “I love you too.”

Accomplished musician Ben Kweller, a respected artist in his own right, was on before Yorn and even joined Yorn on stage for one of his final songs. Kweller played a solo set that was one part acoustic guitar, one part piano and all rock and roll. He had command of the stage from the beginning notes of his first song and stomped with abandon around like he was playing in his own living room.

The Wellspring opened the night as a three-piece folk rock band who sounded a bit like The Jayhawks and featured a nice blending of harmony vocals.

Yorn will continue his tour through the U.S. and end it in Europe in June. More information regarding Pete Yorn can be found at peteyorn.com.

Ben Kweller.

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