Concert Review by Evan Mack

The Ark, one of Ann Arbor’s premier spots for touring bands, hosted Colorado natives Leftover Salmon Wednesday, September 10th, luring a crowd of lively fans of the band and genre.  The venue first became relevant in the ‘60’s for bringing primarily folk bands to Ann Arbor — more recent shows included Shovels and Rope and Jeff Daniels and the Ben Daniels Band.

When we arrived to the show twenty minutes late, the crowd had already become intimate with the band, chirping their preferences, an act that might have been incongruous, or at least ‘too early’ for most concertgoers, but one that was generally appreciated by the band and their veteran leader, Vince Herman.  While talking with the crowd and switching between their most recent, self-titled, album Leftover Salmon, and older albums like The Aquatic Hitchhiker and Euphoria, the band lifted the audience from their seats.  With a resounding set of guitar and banjo solos from Andy Thorn and Drew Emmitt, the band took a set break leading the crowd towards the bar in anticipation of their return.

To start the second set, Vince Herman and Drew Emmitt addressed the crowd with almost mischievous but inviting smiles, issuing an inviting address to the crowd: “We never like to repeat our performances, so we looked up our performance from last year… we are sorry.”

To compensate for the accidental repetition, crowd request determined the rest of the show – a feat I have personally never seen accomplished.  To none of the crowd’s surprise, Leftover Salmon followed through with the requests shouted, half-drunkenly and entirely seriously, from the seasoned crowd, never anticipating where their improvisation might take them. An especially striking moment was Lou Reed’s “Walk On The Wild Side.”

A crowd favorite, “Highway Song,” had a mesmerizing call-and-response structure that the three front men generated, echoing the folksy-bluegrass riffs that characterize their songs.  Marinating the audience with the song’s unpolished jams only added to the authenticity and homey vibrancy within the venue. As Vince and Drew sang the seemingly apathetic lyrics, “just another highway,” our response was everything but; we were enamored by the familiarity in their voices.

The Leftover Salmon show was the most intimate live music experience I’ve ever had.  They left with a resounding chorus of “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” the craving for their next visit to Ann Arbor already present.

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