The Wallflowers deliver relaxed show in Lowell

A review of Jakob Dylan and the Wallflowers at the Lowell Summer Music Series on August 14, 2009

, Staff

It’s been 13 years since The Wallflowers were on top of the world with their career-defining album, Bringing Down the Horse. Although they haven’t reached the same success since, their efforts have warranted a greatest hits collection for which they are touring in support of this summer. The Wallflowers, or Jakob Dylan and the Wallflowers as they’re referred to today, (Dylan is the only remaining original member) hit Lowell on Friday night for a show at the cozy confines of Boarding House Park.

The ladies sure were excited as their pop rock heartthrob, Dylan, appeared with the ‘Flowers to start things off with “Sleepwalker”, although it was a restrained excitement seeing as everybody was kicked back and relaxed in their lawn chairs and blankets. Dylan poked fun at the laid back setting saying “You guys look comfortable” and joking with a security guard telling him to “Stay on your toes, it’s gonna get crazy”. This was before Dylan and company played one of their biggest hits, “6th Avenue Heartache”, early in the set. The performance featured some smooth slide playing from Stuart Mathis but lacked the same passion in Dylan’s voice from the record.

For the first half of the show it seemed as if the band had been sucked in to the relaxed atmosphere, playing mostly ballads and mid-tempo tunes. Only another solid solo from Mathis added excitement to the serene “Closer to You” but “God Says Nothing Back” and “Up From Under” reverted the same slow pace.

“Empire in My Mind” supplied a little edge before some of their biggest hits provided the climax of the show. After Dylan gave his honest opinion of Lowell, calling it a “rough neighborhood”, but mentioning city improvements to save face from an awkward moment, the performance of “One Headlight” cushioned the blow and actually got a few fans out of their comfort chairs. “Three Marlenas” kept the fans engaged but the show wained with Dylan’s muttering vocals on “Shy of the Moon” and main set closer “Nearly Beloved”. Nevertheless, many fans were on their feet for the encore as the Wallflowers returned with the Tom Petty-esque “Everything I Need” before closing the show with “The Difference”.

Speaking of the difference, it seems the difference between the Wallflowers of the 90’s and the current version is passion. The reason Bringing Down the Horse was such a huge success was the deliberative writing and emotion in Dylan’s voice but at times in Lowell the band’s performances, although acceptable, seemed as if they were just going through the motions. Perhaps it was the relaxed atmosphere but for a band that is supposed to be celebrating their career with a greatest hits disc, it didn’t seem as if the Wallflowers were ready to celebrate just yet.

Boston via New Hampshire rockers Wild Light have been garnering loads of buzz with their new album, Adult Nights. The band was back on home turf on Friday night as they delivered material from the new album during their opening set.

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