Close to a decade removed from the end of his run as frontman for hardworking, DIY punk band Avail, Tim Barry has made a pretty nice second career for himself as a hardworking, DIY acoustic solo artist. For whatever reason, it took nearly ten years of refining his stand-alone live set to make his performing debut in the great State of New Hampshire. Despite not having a local railyard, the blue-collar, ‘Live Free Or Die’ ethos of the Manchester, the Granite State’s largest city, would seem the perfect marriage partner for a Tim Barry performance. The time was finally right last Saturday for Barry to make his New Hampshire debut at the Queen City’s Shaskeen Pub, and the result was every bit as good as was expected.
Local support on the evening came from Down To The Well, a New Hampshire-based drunken folk singalong style three piece. While they may not have a large following outside the area yet, the trio (banjo, acoustic guitar and standup bass, in case you were wondering and didn’t feel like clicking through to the pictures) were the embodiment of a perfect local opener, as they drew a strong, supportive contingent of fans who remained vocal throughout their 45 minute set.
Beloved Boston punk scene veteran Lenny Lashley provided direct support for Barry, albeit in a bit of a curiously abbreviated set. Lashley’s Gang of One project has taken numerous forms over the years and appeared as a four-piece on this particular night, with frequent collaborators Mackie LaChance (which, seriously, has to be the most perfect mob name ever) on stand-up bass and Corey King on acoustic guitar rounded out by Joe Macharet on fiddle. Macharet added a new, welcome layer to Lashley’s sound, and it’ll be interesting to see this sort of arrangement worked out going forward. Lashley’s set consisted of songs from his Darkbuster and Lenny and The Piss Poor Boys days as well as highlighting a few tracks from his recent (and incredibly stellar) full-length, Illuminator, though some of the latter album’s more inspired, uptempo tracks were left out due to the acoustic nature of this particular evening.
‘Acoustic’ does not have to equate with ‘subdued,’ however, as Tim Barry made readily apparent from the first notes of the set opener “Dog Bumped.” Lashley concluded his set by commenting that Barry was going to “blow the roof off” the Shaskeen, and anyone that has borne witness to a Tim Barry live show can attest to the fact that it feels, at times, as though that’s exactly what’s going to happen. There’s obviously a certain visceral connection that great live acts are able to make with their audiences, and in the case of Barry’s set, it is very much a symbiotic relationship. Plagued in part by what seemed to be an ongoing issue with the mix in the stage monitors (not noticeable to this particular writer), Barry brought his acoustic and his mic stand off the stage and into the crowd to perform on at least three separate occasions during his 75 minute set. Obvious musical differences aside, the feel was very much like that of a night when Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band are firing on all cylinders, except that instead of playing the role of de facto preacher to the working man, Barry seems to be speaking not to or for, but in unison with, the common man. And though it was his first appearance in the Granite State, one left with the feeling that Barry would, no doubt, be back.
Click here to check out our photo gallery from the evening. Kudos to Mrs. “jaystone” for the assist on some of the photos.
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