Avett Brothers Live Review

Heart Smatterings | Avett Brothers Live Review | House Of Blues Orlando | April 11, 2015

by • April 23, 2015

Seth Avett was scorching the strings of his 1956 tobacco sunburst Gibson ES-225 during the fiery interlude of “Vanity,” a pure Americana rock n’ roll number. His older brother, Scott, walked over and spontaneously began embracing him. That was the 21st song of the Saturday night.

The younger sibling grinned while his brother squeezed his shoulders. He managed to keep shredding despite the hug, while beaming faces at the House of Blues hollered him on. We pumped our fists as Seth knelt at the edge of the stage, his head mirroring his hands as they moved up and down the frets on his mahogany fretboard. Scott bounced like a pogo-stick around him clapping, singing, laughing—just totally rockin’ out. Two grown men bound by blood and sweet harmonies were having more fun than kids on a schoolyard playground. The euphoria radiating from that scene—and entire evening, really—nearly made my heart explode.

Avett Brothers Live Review Guitar Solo

That’s the Avett Brothers for you. They may as well be a professional heart demolition crew. They write these lovely, poignant, sometimes all-too-painfully-honest songs about this absurd adventure we’re all on. And dammit if they don’t they perform the heck out of them live with every vestige of exuberance they’ve got oozing from the top of their heads to the tip of their Appalachian-stomping toes. What’s amazing is there is nary any sadness in the end: it’s all hope. So your heart bursts open, yet it stays intact—still whole and, ultimately, happy.

I suppose I knew this is what I was getting into Saturday even before I arrived. I’d collected a handful of ticket stubs over the years with the Avett name on it. But this show, pardon the cliché, somehow felt like the first time. Maybe it was because I was a different person since the last time they stood in front of me. Maybe it was because I had someone special by my side for this one. Maybe because these fellas simply have magical powers.

Honestly, it’s hard not to connect with them. They’re as real as it gets. They feel like family. And not solely the brothers, but everyone in the band. As authentic, unpretentious, hardworking as you would expect folks with North Carolina roots playing roots music would be. This group does nothing halfway when performing except meet you halfway in love—love of music, love of life.

And music and life got pretty great around 9:41pm when a quiet, dark stage lit up with the spotlight on drummer Mike Marsh bringing the beats, solo style. Heads began bobbin’ and feet got to tappin’ when next we heard bows slap fiddles as twangy licks joined in the rhythm. Another light revealed Tania Elizabeth on one side of the stage and original band member Bob Crawford on the other, both making hoedown-honey flow from the instruments tucked under their chins. Then Joe Kwon was beside Elizabeth, twirling his cello and swaying to and fro as he sawed his strings. On the other side dueling off with Crawford was Paul Defiglia who was furiously and delightfully plucking an upright bass. The starting five had whipped us into a solid frenzy when Scott and Seth finally emerged from the shadows armed with a banjo and guitar, leaning into the mics for the first verse, “Baby’s in the cradle, mama’s in the bed. Sparrow’s in the windowsill and the devil’s in my head.”

Just three minutes in, knees were knocking, hips were shaking and we were boots deep in a good old-fashioned soulful bluegrass romp. “Satan Pulls the Strings,” a tune that doesn’t appear on any album (yet), was one hell of an opening ditty, y’all.

Avett Brothers Live Review

It only got better from there. Song after song, with seamless transitions, the hits kept coming, old and new, spanning over a decade of records. No sir, there were no thoughts of leaving the packed, sold-out dance floor to grab another cold one, not if you didn’t want to miss this bliss.

About 15 songs in, after a raucous performance of the fan favorite “Head Full of Doubt, Road Full Of Promise,” the original three got intimate with us. Scott, Seth, and Bob gathered close together, glowing in a warm spotlight front and center, for a few acoustic ballads. Now, I had not planned on needing tissues for a rendition of a traditional southern hymn (Scott and Seth’s grandfather was a Methodist preacher), but it happened that I did. Tears through a smile accompanied fond thoughts of my momma as the boys softly sang “In the Garden,” a song she used to play on our piano when I was growing up.  My heart swelled. I was grateful to those gentlemen for taking me back to that memory.

The trio treated us to a beautiful brand new tune, “I Wish I Was,” that they promised would be on the forthcoming album. And with lyrics like, “I wish I was a sweater wrapped around your hips. And when it got too cold, into me you’d slip,” we’re gonna hold them to that.

After finishing a hardy 23 song set with “Life,” off their 2008 album The Carpenter, Scott thanked us and they left the stage to give us a minute or two to wonder out loud what bonus music we’d get in the encore. When they returned, the bow they tied around an unforgettable gift of a show couldn’t have been more perfect: “I and Love and You.” All around, hands held up three fingers dotting the stage as silhouettes and seemingly every voice in the building singing in whispered, happy tones:

Three words that became hard to say
I and love and you
What you were then, I am today
Look at the things I do

It was only then that my heart exploded.

Avett Brothers Live Review


“Satan Pulls the Strings”
“Morning Song”
“Will You Return?”
“The Fall”
“Down with the Shine”
“Good To You”
“Distraction #74”
“Nothing Short of Thankful”
“Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise”
“Le Reel Du Pendu / Les Bars De La Prison”
“In the Garden (traditional hymn)”
“I Wish I Was”
“Go to Sleep”
“Little Sadie (cover)”
“The Weight of Lies”
“Live and Die”
“Kick Drum Heart”

“Talk On Indolence”
“I and Love And You”

Avett Brothers Live Review and Photos by Dena Davis.

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