REVIEW/PHOTOS: Walking Papers at Concord Music Hall in Chicago

There is something so unique about Seattle’s own Walking Papers. Tapped as the opening band for Myles Kennedy and Co.’s U.S. Year Of The Tiger Fall Tour, the 6-piece band played a 45-minute set to warm up the crowd.

The night started off with select songs from their early 2018 release, WP2. This Is How It Ends not only featured bassist Dan Spalding playing a standup bass (or canoe as Jeff Angell joked), but at the start of the song, saxophonist Gregor Lothian lifted and lowered heavy chains onto a road case. This unusual sound made for such a great effect that really added to the ambience at the start of the night.

Continuing with Death on the Lips, the crowd got a feel for the band’s laid-back, chill vibe. However, they quickly amped up the tempo with Hard To Look Away. Not only did this song showcase Gregor on sax, we heard the enrichment of the layers provided by an instrument that often gets placed in a back corner of the stage. This was not the case with Benjamin Anderson as his keyboard was set up towards the front edge. It was really great to be able to see such an animated player, who also helped with backing vocals, and some may have even noticed he removed his shoes, prior to the start of the show, to play in his socks. (Something you normally see with drummers.)

The band slowed it down a bit on I’ll Stick Around from their self-titled 2013 release. The easy-going rhythm really allowed each band member to stand out on their own. With a lead off from drummer Will Andrews, they switched gears again and the crowd was ready to move along with King Hooker. Having seen Walking Papers in 2013, things have changed this time around, as singer/guitarist Jeff Angell has handed over sole guitar duties to Tristan Hart Pierce, who handled it as if he had years under his belt.

This of course allowed Angell the freedom to move around all night as the songs flowed through his body in the form of arm movements, various facial expressions, dancing and his, what I will call, trademark microphone fake out. The act of tipping the microphone stand forward over the crowd, while controlling it with his foot to pull it back just in time. I’m sure he freaked out a few people that night. Angell was also good about pointing out other members on stage for the crowd to “give it up” for them. A Place Like This carried a bit of a samba flavor and also included a sax solo. While it may seem out of the ordinary for a band to tour with six members, it was a pleasure to see such talented musicians work so flawlessly together.

The Butcher, with its soft piano intro and Angell’s raspy vocals, quickly painted a picture of a performance in a dark club or lounge. After the first verse, Angell stopped for a long dramatic pause and the audience mostly stayed silent, as they waited to see what would come next. Eventually, some in the crowd cheered and he continued telling the story. At the end of the second verse, Gregor’s sax solo came in perfectly and sounded as if it were floating up and down along invisible waves over the audience. After another short pause, Jeff announced they didn’t have time for the last verse, laughed and explained the guy goes into the woods, gets his throat slit and dies. Based on the crowd reaction, most seemed satisfied with the unexpected ending.

With a prominent lead guitar intro, Walking Papers got their funky groove on with Capital T which brought everyone’s attention front and center. They kept up with that momentum and ended the night with, Your Secret’s Safe With Me. This song had enough Rock ‘n’ Roll running through it to make anyone want to react, but the keys work from Benjamin really stood out on this one.

Walking Papers are a band of talented musicians at the top of their game, led by a front man with enough swagger that his casually cool command of the stage seems effortless. Their songs are interesting, as some tend to follow a different flow and others definitely walk a dark line lyrically. Their performance however, is where the heart is at and it’s delivered with such conviction, you’ll absolutely want to come back for more.

Walking Papers are on tour through the end of December. Find dates and ticket links here.

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  1. Pingback: My Concert Schedule 2018

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