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The Continuing Evolution of Anders Osborne

June 22nd, 2012

Anders Osborne – Brooklyn Bowl – June 21, 2012

(Photo: Michael Jurick)

We’re certain it was Walt Whitman who said, “I contain multitudes” and not Anders Osborne and his “I am large” guitar, right? The way he played last night at Brooklyn Bowl, Osborne exhibited deep, multifaceted levels, a multitude of sounds and emotions that he was very willing to share with the crowd. The first two songs, including “Love Is Taking Its Toll,” were novels, epic novels, together zigzagging through several different sections and themes; each with its own guitar solo, each solo somehow containing multiple tones, like a schizophrenic conversation between Osborne and himself until 45 minutes had passed and the crowd was a sweaty mess.

As Osborne churned away like a crazed writer banging away at the typewriter, his bandmates—Carl Dufresne on bass and Eric Bolivar on drums—acted as the editors: the former adding punctuation marks to the prose, a comma here, an exclamation point there, and the other underlining, italicizing and occasionally bold-facing where appropriate. Then came the guests and the covers. They seemed to join the stage hand in hand, Noah’s Ark style, two by two to try their luck with the ferocious lion of Osborne’s guitar. There was a jubilant reggae version of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” which brought out opener Billy Iuso, followed by an even weirder take on Dr. John’s already-weird-enough “I Walk on Guilded Splinters,” a depth-charge version of Little Feat’s “Spanish Moon” and a sing-along rendition of Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” while the stage was filled with guys on organ, harmonica and saxophone.

But the beaming, leonine Osborne saved the best for last: The ecstatic crowd was treated to an encore of a semi-acoustic “Tracking My Roots” and a great version of the Grateful Dead’s “Franklin’s Tower.” Watching Osborne wrap up another depth-defying NYC show, continuing an amazing rebirth, resurgence and reinvention, emptying his heart over and over for the family-like crowd, Whitman’s words return: “I celebrate myself, and sing myself.” —A. Stein