Tim Barry Doesn’t Sing Alone

April 18th, 2011

Tim Barry – Mercury Lounge – April 16, 2011

You owe it to yourself to see Tim Barry play at least once. And if not Barry, an artist with an equal amount of honesty and integrity. There are too few troubadours these days—and too few musicians who care less about opulent lifestyles or trends or making a name for themselves. We’re talking about someone who is willing to stand onstage and connect with the audience on a human level. Not someone singing to you, but singing with you.

With three well-received solo albums behind him, the (perhaps) former frontman of the seminal punk band Avail, took his solo act to a sold-out audience at Mercury Lounge on Saturday night. It was there, acoustic guitar in hand, that Barry took another step toward solidifying his reputation as a modern-day underground version of a young Johnny Cash. Battling a sore throat, Barry soldiered through an hour-long set with little accompaniment. He sang about hopping freight trains and living simple, topics not exactly native to the hustle of our fair city, but romanticized through his Southern folk style.

At one point Barry hopped into the crowd, sans microphone, and did a rousing version of “Bus Driver” with his jubilant fans easily filling the room as backup singers. He later introduced “Prosser’s Gabriel,” a song about a slave uprising, by reminding the crowd that all it takes to make change happen is the ability to care. Barry, a man who doesn’t do encores, finished the night with two audience favorites, “Wait at Milano” and “Avoiding Catatonic Surrender,” and the accompanying sing-along chorus proved to be more fitting than any applause that could warrant a curtain call. —Ed Erlenmeyer