“Its good to be here, really” was the first thing Folk Musician Gregory Alan Iskov said to the crowd after the opening number. He was right, as it was one of the first concert’s he and his band had performed post-ish-pandemic. Or at least, in the last eighteen months.
The singer was the opening act for Patti Smith, postponed originally by the State Theatre since June of 2020, but later picked up by Surly brewing to present the acts in an outdoor setting. A change for sure from the regal atmosphere of the State Theatre, to the rainy, wet parking lot of a local brewery. But it was a welcome one. This was a show many people in the crowd had been looking forward to for a long time, myself included. An outdoor setting was the safest way to handle it. Isakov is opening a very small handful of shows for Patti Smith, tonight being their second show after a rain-out in Illinois. “Patti’s manager asked us to open for her, and I said ‘You mean I get to see Patti Smith for free?!” he exclaimed, looking sidestage to see Patti watching some of his opening numbers. Patti later returned the compliment in her set. “Gregory said my manager had asked him to open for me, but that was only because I asked my manager to ask him. I love Stable Song“ she said. Which did make it’s way into Isakov’s set.
Since it was an outdoor show, weather was indeed a factor. The rainy, cool, dare i saw autumn weather was welcome to us, helping to alleviate the drought of both water and live music. A little rain wasn’t going to stop anyone, especially in the front rows, from seeing one of their favorite artists. “It’s been a while since we’ve done this” said Isakov in the middle of his set. He and his band did seem a little rusty, as most likely are right now, but we’ll take it. “I think this one is called Amsterdam” he joked “Not really sure.”
Isakov stood alongside two other musicians to make it a trio, both of whom were all very talented. John Grigsby stood to his left, mostly playing an upright bass that doubled as a cello at times, switching out to an electric bass on a handful of numbers. To their right was Steve Varney, who was as skilled a banjo player as he was at guitar. Together, the three gave Isakov’s songs a new light, as it is mostly performed by a full band. Towards the end of the show, the three stood together around one microphone and sang Bullet Holes and what Isakov described as their “Happiest Song” All Shades of Blue
What was unique about tonight’s music is that it wasnt behind any sort of promotion for an album, a nationwide tour, or to boost any sales. In fact, Isakov made no mention of where to buy merch or an album, and had only mentioned a name of a handful of songs in his set. Tonight was purely meant to play music to a crowd for the first time in a very long time, and they did it well. Fans cried out for an encore as the crew turned over the stage, but unfortunately it didnt happen. Hopefully a headlining show is in the works soon, but last nights show left fans fulfilled in the meantime.