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flag US - Oregon - Full Moon 43 - 04/18/00

Elliott Smith
Seattle 28.02.00 + Portland 29.02.00

In a league of his own - Live in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR

Elliott Smith is a genius. That's for sure. On a gruelling cross-country trek all over the States he played acoustic and solo again and in places that usually would be far to small for him. No wonder then, that the Breakroom in Seattle and the Satyricon in his former hometown, Portland, both with a capacity of around only 250, were completely sold out. In Seattle tickets were changing hands for up to $60 before the show and in Portland you had people like Janet Weiss (Sleater-Kinney), Steve Malkmus of Pavement and various members of Elliott's former band Heatmiser standing in the corner, looking very cool indeed.

In Seattle Elliott seemed to have problems to accomodate the new songs of his upcoming fifth solo album Figure Eight (out in mid May on Dreamworks) in the set and so apart from a few newbies like Son Of Sam and Sweet Mary K. the best part of his set was made up of his "greatest hits" like Needle In The Hay or Rose Parade. He also did a very welcome Division Day, maybe one of his three best songs, but so far only available on a single for a small Seattle-based label. Funnily enough, he forgot the words to the song and was cursing at himself halfway through the song for doing so. He also played his "theme song" (he probably would hate me for calling it that), Say Yes, immeditaley after a girl in the audience requested it. Needless to say, it made everybody in the Breakroom very happy.

The next day, four hours down south, at his homecoming show in Portland, Elliott got a little more adventureous and did not only do a number of requests from the audience, but also almost one third of the new album plus a few surprises, like I Figured You Out, a gorgeous tune never recorded by Elliott himself and passed on to his former touring mate Mary Lou Lord because it sounded "to much like The Eagles", as he points out. Obviously it doesn't sound like the Eagles at all, save for the pop appeal of the song and Elliott's version is actually even better than Mary Lou's because it sounds slightly more cynical. You can only hope that he keeps playing it. To close off proceedings Elliott played a couple of covers, too - something he hadn't done in Seattle. So we got Big Star's Night Time and a ramshackle, but very amusing I'm Only Sleeping by The Beatles. You might have heard by now that Elliott's not playing for hours, but only 45 minutes in Seattle and about an hour in Portland just wasn't enough for my liking. Elliott himself liked the Portland show better, I enjoyed them both, especially since they were so different. The Portland audience sucked though. How you can talk to your friends about your recent holiday in the Netherlands at the top of your lungs when Elliott's on stage, singing in the shy and quiet style that's his trademark, is beyond me. Must've been people from the guestlist. (Hmm, this seems to be a universal problem. Lynch the bastards! - editor's note)

After completing yet another extensive tour of the States in May, Elliott will return, then with his band, to play a number of European festivals in June and some club dates in the fall. Even though his shows might be more enjoyable and more direct when he's playing solo, I can only recommend that you check him out live even with his backing band. Especially if you have trouble getting into his more band-orientated last couple of albums!

Copyright © 2000 Carsten Wohlfeld e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Elliott Smith articles/reviews: 1969-2003, La Zona Rosa, Austin TX, 06.05.2000, XO, the Hamburger interview.

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