Buffalo Tom mix old and new at the Paradise

A review of Buffalo Tom, Mean Creek at the Paradise Rock Club on April 8, 2011

, Managing Editor

Twenty-five years is the silver anniversary, but forget tradition, Buffalo Tom did their fans even better with a new album titled, Skins, the eighth release in the band’s storied career. Fans in their hometown of Boston returned the favor by filling the Paradise Rock Club on Friday night.

Buffalo Tom’s fanbase is far too large to consider it “cult”, but the affection is certainly cult-like. One of the many reasons for fan’s strong sentiments must be the way that the band happily caters to them with shows that span the band’s entire catalog. They wasted no time rocking out the fan-favorites as “Sunflower Suit” and “Taillights Fade” had fans singing along from the start.

One of the best characteristics of Buffalo Tom is that even though some of their songs are beautifully touching, or even heartbreaking, they never take themselves too seriously. For instance, their song “Sunday Night” is an incredibly emotional song with lyrics like “I feel so empty I could die” and “all the stupid things I’ve ever said now make me wish that I was dead” but guitarist Bill Janovitz was quick to cheer folks up, jokingly asking, “Was that a downer?”.

If you ask ten Buffalo Tom fans what their favorite Buffalo Tom song is you could easily get ten different answers but if a compromise had to be made, the likely winner would have to be “Larry”. A six-minute opus that hypnotizes their audience into a state that no one wants to come out of. Janovitz is ever-active onstage, an artist who certainly wears his emotions on his sleeve as he belts out songs with all his might, but one can tell that “Larry” is special to him as well, ferociously swinging his guitar around as fans bobbed their heads to every Tom Maginnis cymbal crash.

Buffalo Tom served up a hearty helping of Skins, but picked their spots nicely so it didn’t feel as if they were forcing the new album upon their longtime fans. The new songs were able to hold their own against the fan-favorites that made up the setlist. The band got off to a couple false starts playing new tunes “She’s Not Your Thing” and “The Kids Just Sleep”, as bassist Chris Colbourn was caught off guard that it was his turn at the mic. Other than the shaky starts, the band played the new tracks like they had been playing them for years. “Don’t Forget Me” stood out most of the Skins tunes as the calm number was a change-up from the emotional rush of “Larry” and “I’m Allowed”.

Buffalo Tom mixed the old with the new to perfection, which is actually how this show went in general as local up-and-comers Mean Creek were tapped to open. The young four-piece group showcased their breakthrough potential and quickly won over the older crowd with songs like “The Sky (Or The Underground)” and the dark closer “The Comedian”.

Setlist:
Sunflower Suit
Taillights Fade
Here I Come
She’s Not Your Thing
Treehouse
Summer
Arise, Watch
Velvet Roof
Mineral
The Kids Just Sleep
Sunday Night
Tangerine
Late At Night
Guilty Girls
Down
Larry
I’m Allowed
Encore
Don’t Forget Me
Staples
Clobber
Sodajerk
You’ll Never Catch Him

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