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flag US - Massachusetts - Full Moon 38 - 11/23/99

Buffalo Tom
The Astoria 2, London, November 5th 1999

Going Underground with Buffalo Tom

Last year around this time it must have been strange, maybe even painful to be in Buffalo Tom. Once hailed as one of the best examples of College Rock from Boston, Mass., on their last European tour, supporting their current Smitten release, the US three piece played to very small crowds and left people wonder if their time was just about to be over.

But then Paul Weller (and Liam Gallagher) came to the rescue. For the recently released The Jam tribute LP Fire & Skill Buffalo Tom recorded a fine, stripped-down version of Going Underground, the song was released as a single and managed to enter the British single charts at number 6. Despite the fact that Buffalo Tom never even came close to entering any chart anywhere. Well, you know what I mean. The fact that the flipside of Going Underground was Liam Gallagher's version of The Jam's Carnation, the first new tune by ANYBODY-OUT-OF-OASIS in AGES, might have something to do with the sudden success of Buffalo Tom, but at least it gave them the chance to come to London for their only European show this year.

Despite the fact that singer Bill Janovitz said something like "some of you probably only heard about us a couple of weeks ago," it was obvious that only the die-hard fans had found their way to Charing Cross and so the excellent opener I'm Allowed turned into a massive singalong - what a great way to kickstart the show! For the first part of the gig Buffalo Tom stuck to the "classics" and so we got Velvet Roof and Treehouse, Postcard and the fantastic Taillights Fade rather early on. The surprise came halfway through the show with a three-song acoustic set, that featured Going Underground ("Thanks to Liam, whoever that is," Chris Colbourne joked), and a completely re-arranged Tangerine, now played as a country-esque honky-tonk-song, reminiscent of (say) the Rolling Stones' Dead Flowers. A very welcome change indeed. Back to electric for a quick fromp through Kitchen Door, Sodajerk and the closing Darl.

But of course there was more and the encores started with jet another newly arranged tune, an staggeringly beautiful rendition of Knot In It. Summer followed as expected and then it was time for the "Ophrah" segment of the show as Bill called it, where somebody from the audience was allowed to chose a song. Despite numerous people yelling for the classic Racine (Yeah! - editor's note), it was Impossible (also from the first J. Mascis-produced album) that the band selected. Obviously, they completely trashed the song and I'm not sure if the got all the words right either. Tons of fun to watch though, even though my ears almost started bleeding ... When the guy right in front of him kept yelling for Racine after that, Bill just said: "Only one song from that record, son!" The last song of the night was a very nice version of Wiser, some "words of wisdom," as Bill called them.

So there it was, Buffalo Tom's only European performance for this year. They came, they saw, they basically played all you could hope for, and the pulled out a few nice surprises as well. They didn't give us any hints if they will be able to change enough to make their next album a bigger success than the somewhat disappointing Smitten, but maybe the more countryfied style of Tangerine or Knot In It would be a good point to start.

Right now at least it must feel a whole lot better to be in Buffalo Tom.

Copyright © 1999 Carsten Wohlfeld e-mail address

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