Live Review: Aaron Lewis — The Canyon Club, Agoura Hills
Tue, 12 Jan 2010 10:06:09
Aaron Lewis knows a secret.
It's a secret that seems to elude most purveyors of pop culture. It's a secret that's been passed down by legendary musicians, actors, comedians and (gasp) even politicians. So what is the secret that the Staind frontman is privy to?
Well, Mr. Lewis can captivate a crowd with nothing more than an acoustic guitar, a microphone, a stool and a joke or three. There's something undeniably timeless about his solo acoustic shows. Last night the packed canyon club in Agoura Hills felt like Vegas when the rat pack ran it, the original Woodstock or the moment Pearl Jam took over. All of the pretense that our culture is chronically used to was dropped in favor of an incredible performance by rock n' roll's lone gunman—and it was unforgettable.
Lewis walked on stage with a smile and sat right down with his acoustic. Looking up at the crowd, he simply said, "I figured that this would be a good way to start this," and launched into "So Far Away." He preserved the song's pop prowess on the hook, while giving it an organic folk flavor that whet the crowd's appetite for more. On a poignant and pained rendition of "Please," Lewis allowed fans to get closer than ever. Each word resounded with tangible emotion, and he delivered feelings of anger and regret with an honesty that channeled Layne Staley and Johnny Cash equally.
Following the man in black further down the road, Lewis belted out his new solo track, "Country Boy," with stadium-filling grit and gusto. "Country Boy" already feels like a classic track. Lewis' trademark vocals show some swagger, as he tells the story of being a "Country Boy" in the biz. Before a powerful "Everything Changes," he jested, "This song's about being a fucking idiot." He carried the melody flawlessly and then began interacting with the crowd even more. Lewis laughed, "A couple of songs ago, I was having a moment." As fans yelled out requests and proclaimed their love for Lewis, he brandished a massive smile and kept interacting, even singing happy birthday for one lucky attendee.
The night was full of those moments though. With its finger-picked melody and transcendent harmony, a sensitive "Zoe Jane" captivated the crowd drawing everyone in further. Then he bared his soul again on "Blow Away," which felt just as heavy as the distorted and monolithic recording from 14 Shades of Gray.
Lewis's sense of humor shined even more on new solo track, "Bong Hits for Breakfast." The title pretty much says it all, but to hear him belt out the refrain through a bluesy delivery is priceless. It's modern outlaw country at its finest, and it shows just how incredibly diverse of a performer Lewis is. Stripping away everything, "Home" shook the crowd to its very core as Lewis's voice reached heavenly heights. "Outside" and "It's Been Awhile" gave way to "Intro." Lewis discarded the microphone and encouraged the crowd to be completely quiet. He sang the song a capella, and kept every audience member transfixed. It's the kind of moment that can only come courtesy of a true master…
Does everything really need to be 3-D these days? Why can't anybody write a full record from start to finish? Why are we constantly looking for that quick over-stimulating fix? What are you expecting to achieve by it? What does it tell future generations? The truth is, we don't need any of that. This show was the perfect example of real art connecting without all of the bullshit.
Lewis proved something last night that's beyond important for this generation. John Lennon said it differently, but it means the same thing…Lewis showed all you need is music….
That's the secret…
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