Toad The Wet Sprocket – Majestic Theater, Madison 11/22/2013

I went to see Toad The Wet Sprocket at The Majestic with Bret.

When he asked if I wanted to go I confessed I didn’t know a lot about them. He assured me that I would know some of their songs, and with a little help from Grooveshark I listened to their Greatest Hits and I had this reaction: “Oh, THOSE guys.” I HAD heard Toad before and I liked them without really putting a name to the band. “Fall Down” and “Walk On The Ocean” and “All I Want” were all over the radio. It’s solid melodic tunes that have an air of the west coast. They have a new album out and are touring.

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It was a cold night and the crowd waiting outside was quite a mixture. There were, shall we say folks my age, and younger and some kids too. They have a kind of ageless sound and wide appeal. The band has actually been around for quite a while. Lots of people walked by and looked up at the marquee and kind of shrugged and walked on. I think that is a common reaction to a Monty Python derived name, and as one band member stated, probably a joke that went too far and can’t be stopped now.

Art Paul Schlosser was there outside entertaining.

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During his rendition of “If You’re Happy And You Know It” he included the verse, “If you’re happy and you know it give me your free ticket” and laughed. Ultimately he was spotted inside, not sure if he got lucky or if he planned on coming it all along.

No ticket stub for this show. Almost everyone in line had print outs like us, which they took at the door and tossed. Sigh. I did snap this as the line filed in as a record of the event.

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We were about the 20th people in the door and thought we scooted to find a table and got one, all the chairs had been removed! So we had a table but it was just to lean on. Ah well.  The view from second tier far right was fine and we were insulated from traffic for the most part. Not a bad place to be.

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The opener was Lee DeWyze. He and a guy playing banjo were onstage. Banjo? Yep.

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At this point I have to confess that I liked him a lot, and that the banjo actually was awesome. I have to think that this is the first show I have ever seen that featured a banjo, but he wasn’t picking honky tonk, it meshed with the acoustic really well. I was surprised how much I liked it. That wasn’t the only surprise from the Lee’s bandmate whose name unfortunately I didn’t get. Joey check it out:

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He also played trumpet! Muted. It sounded great, kind of speakeasy style as Bret put it.

Another surprise I found while trying to find trumpet man’s name. Lee DeWyze is a Season 9 American Idol winner!

He was good, and I dug the banjo and trumpet a lot.

Then came Toad.

Toad The Wet Sproket Majestic Madison 11222013

I managed to get a band poster during the show (and one for Bret on the way out).

They hit the stage and the place erupted with cheers and woo’s.

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What followed was a tight, good feeling, good time, smooth band that was always singable and never over the top. They jammed, they played soft, they traded vocals and I although I only knew a handful of songs, I seemed to think I knew them all. They had that effect, like you were seeing an old friend. It was weird, but comfortable. They weren’t showy or flashy, they just played great music. The three up front and the drummer are the guys from the poster, but another surprise in a night of surprises (instrumentally) was a 5th member of the band not in the poster.

A pedal steel player!

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Ordinarily, when I think of pedal steel guitar, I think of cheesy country western music and shudder. But, this guy was making the greatest sounds out of that thing that I couldn’t help but admit to myself that I liked it, a lot. Hats off to this guy. He wailed on that thing and it really tied the songs together. He also played keyboards and acoustic and mandolin at one point.

Toad did a great job blending all the sounds. The drummer played in a way that I can only describe as soft. He wasn’t blasting them and pounding your heart for you, he was accompanying the band. That seems a weird description, I mean the drums were felt, but he paused a lot and punctuated songs in all the right places without overpowering the band. It was very well done.

The sang harmonies often and traded lead vocals and looked like they really enjoyed playing together which always makes it great.

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They played the songs I knew, songs from the new album and I liked them all. It was a great show. They left the stage for a moment and then came back to more roars and played a few more and ended with “Walk On The Ocean” which made the crowd go crazy.

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Then they thanked everyone and sent us on our way with a good feeling.

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See you next time.

Thanks for a great show!

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