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Such a Night

May 14th, 2012

M. Ward – Webster Hall – May 11, 2012


It felt like summer had just arrived in New York City on a warm Friday night. Things were even hotter inside sold-out Webster Hall when M. Ward descended on to the stage as the “Post-War” interlude slowly grooved. Those in the crowd cheered as he dug into the older album Post-War, early into the show, and then sang along to “Poison Cup” and “Chinese Translation.” Ward was packing oldies but goodies to please longtime followers (pre–She & Him). He even delved deeper into his catalog, touching upon “Fuel for Fire” from Transistor Radio. Although the singer-songwriter let his tunes speak for him most of the show, Ward confessed, “It’s still early in the night, but you’re my favorites.”

Upon cheers he sang, “New York, I’m falling into a deep, deep depression.” But those lyrics from “Pure Joy,” the last track on his latest, A Wasteland Companion, were the opposite of what he was feeling. Chris Scruggs added the melodic reverb of the lap steel on “Clean Slate,” another off his latest. Ward’s twangier rendition of “Magic Trick” had quite a few couples dancing. And he treated the audience to a few covers, like John Fahey’s “Bean Vine Blues, No. 2,” Buddy Holly’s “Rave On,” which appears on his last record, Hold Time, and Daniel Johnston’s “To Go Home.”

Rachel Cox provided backing vocals for “I Get Ideas,” and also stepped in for Zooey Deschanel on the rollicking Budweiser-selling “Never Had Nobody Like You.” There was no doubt there would be an encore and Ward sure didn’t disappoint. He unveiled a sweet take on “Such a Night,” made famous by Elvis Presley, followed by a floor-shaking cover of Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven.” The latter was a special Record Store Day–release B-side. While the longtime live favorite would have been enough, Ward brought out one of his Monsters of Folk cohorts, Conor Oberst, to end the night with “Vincent O’Brien.” —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Mina K