Photos by: Charlie Homo

For someone known to many first as a studio owner and production genius, John Vanderslice‘s performance at the Rickshaw Stop on Tuesday made a compelling case for the transformative power of the artist’s live show. Tuesday’s show was a release party for the superb new album Romanian Names and a tour kickoff which saw JV and band perform a rich set of songs from his last four albums.

Vanderslice had mentioned to us earlier how excited he was about the band he’d assembled for the tour, and it was easy to see why, as layered, rhythm-driven arrangements allowed the ethereal “Too Much Time” to soar, while “Forest Knolls” substituted an electric guitar catharsis for the album version’s string-laden minimalism.

Yes, it was a CD release party, but it was difficult not to notice both the amount of songs from Cellar Door and Pixel Revolt that the band played as well as how great they sounded. Several of these songs also testified to Vanderslice’s skill as a lyricist who can approach big ideas through present, lasting details. As I was several years back, I’m once again haunted/fascinated by the “Promising Actress” line, “Sometimes a cowboy’s just a man in a cowboy suit”, and a delicate full band arrangement manifested the heartbreak and vulnerability of “Dead Slate Pacific”.

Both the new album and the older songs show that even seven albums and countless tours into his solo career, JV is still developing, inventing and reinventing his music, and it’s a treat to experience that growth firsthand with a performance as good as this one.

More photos from the show:

John Vanderslice

The Morning Benders