Buffalo Tom at the Paradise Rock Club on July 14

A review of Buffalo Tom at the Paradise Rock Club on July 14, 2007

, Staff Writer

Blame the booking agent. A band should not be expected to play four shows in five nights in Europe, then cross the Atlantic for two shows in the next three days. Especially when the last show is supposed to be the homecoming throwdown blowout show. But that’s exactly what Buffalo Tom did, and their ambition cost them a little bit of bang Saturday night at the Paradise.

Not that it was bad. It’s that we all know it could have been better. Opener “Staples” was followed by “Sodajerk,” and it was apparent that the crowd was overjoyed to have the band, who have never broken up but instead have taken several extended breaks, back in a real way. Bill Janovitz, playing the true rock frontman, windmilled away as the song built, but bassist Chris Colbourn’s sweet backing vocals seemed somewhat restrained.

Colbourn got his first chance to sing lead on the title track from the new album, and that’s when the cause of his restraint became evidence. The co-lead singer was definitely struggling with his voice, and several times when he stretched for notes they came out raspy. At the time it was no big deal, but it proved to be a fatal flaw for the rest of the show.

Perhaps the reunion was so frustrating because it hinted so often at what potential greatness Buffalo Tom possess. Janovitz asked the crowd, “How have things been with you? I wish I could say the same for me…we’ve wasted half our summer in cold and rainy Europe” before the standout “Summer,” and the band propelled the show even higher, rocking out “Treehouse.”

After Colbourn visibly suffered through “Clobbered,” the band picked it right back up with standout new tune “September Shirt,” which held up surprisingly well next to Janovitz’s guitar pyrotechnics on “Taillights Fade.” Another new song, “You’ll Never Catch Him,” turned out to be the prettiest tune of the night.

The best songs of the night came when Buffalo Tom forgot that they were tired and worn out and just went for it, carried along by the rush of& “Velvet Roof” and “Tangerine.” Unfortunately, fatigue was clearly in the band’s collective head, which yielded an encore devoid of hits like “Birdbrain,” “Kitchen Door,” and even “Rachael.” A cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Stray Cat Blues” did not do enough to cover up the fact that the band could not give the crowd their all.

Buffalo Tom closed the show with “Wiser” after repeatedly informing the audience that their requests were not going to happen because of Colbourn’s voice. Even after the house lights came up, however, more than half the crowd waited around, clapping, cheering, and otherwise pleading for a second encore with the songs that they came to see. Sadly, a guitar tech came out and signaled to the sound board that the show was indeed over, that the band had nothing more to give. Perhaps it’s greedy to expect more, but Buffalo Tom have set such a standard that it is difficult to accept less, and even more difficult to know that those lucky fans in Europe got a little bit more out of the band than Boston did.

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