Reverend Horton Heat preaches rock in Boston

A review of Reverend Horton Heat and Cracker at the House of Blues on May 26, 2010

, Managing Editor

On a night featuring a huge Celtics playoff game and the Red Sox in the midst of perhaps an (early) season-saving series, the crowd for The Reverend Horton Heat and Cracker at the House of Blues was undersized and perhaps a bit distracted, but that didn’t stop both acts from playing like they had a full house in support of them.

Although the modest-sized crowd at the HOB probably could’ve fit into the cozier Paradise, one thing is for sure; no matter the size of the congregation, Reverend Horton Heat is going to deliver a rock n’ roll sermon that’s loud, fast, and full of laughs.

The Reverend is now 50 years old and although he’s put some 25 years into the rockabilly ministry, he shows very few signs of aging. He may not be able to spit out some of his superfast lyrics with as much vigor as years ago but he more than makes up for it with his famously frenetic fretwork. From the string of five new songs it seems the Reverend has noticed this change himself as the guitar parts were less adventurous, but the vocals at a much higher quality.

The crowd’s reaction to the five new songs off RHH’s latest album, Laughin’ and Cryin’ with the Reverend Horton Heat, showed that what they really wanted to hear was the older gems but it also showed that the Reverend hasn’t lost his sense of humor with straightforward tracks like “Drinkin’ and Smokin’ Cigarettes”. His twisted sense of humor seems to have rubbed off on his bandmates as well as the bassist Jimbo Wallace-penned tune, “Please Don’t Take the Baby to the Liquor Store”, proved to amuse.

With a near two-hour set the Reverend easily managed to fit in plenty of fan-favorites as well. He kicked his way through “It’s Martini Time” and had some people swinging their partners to “Big Little Baby” before romping through what has perhaps become his most famous number (at least with younger fans thanks to “Guitar Hero II), the crowd-pleasing “Psychobilly Freakout”.

Cruising through the end of the set, “400 Bucks” and “Jimbo Song” had the crowd screaming along with the Reverend before “The Devil Chasin’ Me” chased the band off until the encore. An impressive rock move during the latter thrilled the fans as a jazzy breakdown concluded with Wallace laying his stand-up bass on the ground for the Reverend to mount while he strummed away like he was possessed and Wallace continued to play himself. The band reappeared for “Big Red Rocket of Love” with bandmember intros, a drum solo, and “Folsom Prison Blues” sandwiched in between. Scott Churilla filled in for Paul Simmons on drums as he had been attending to the floods in Nashville. Churilla was fantastic all evening, especially during his solo, while it was nice to see Simmons make his first show of the tour and play on the tracks from the new album.

Cracker acted as a perfect compliment to The Reverend Horton Heat’s genre-bending sound as they too have mixed various influences into their work in their near 20 years as a group. This proved true as the country-twang of their new acoustic duet, ”Friends”, stood out in a good way with its humorously quirky lyrics amongst several alt-rockers.

Cracker got plenty of stage time for an opener as they played for over an hour and certainly made good use of it as they fit in tracks from throughout their catalog. “Don’t Fuck Me Up (With Peace & Love)” off 1992’s Cracker, “100 Flower Power Maximum” off 1996’s The Golden Age, and “Gimme One More Chance” off 2006’s Greenland were thrown into the mix with their biggest hits in “Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now)”, “Eurotrash Girl”, and set closer “Low”.

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