There are only a handful of concerts that can be more than a fun night out for you and whoever you show go with. When I saw Jeff Mangum, it meant the world to me because those songs meant the world to me, and I never thought I would have the opportunity to see him live. David Bazan never stopped touring, but had done house show tours that stopped in my town on Tuesdays when I had finals, or in summers when I had already booked a vacation. It felt like fate said I would never see him.
On Thursday, November 15, 2012, seeing the David Bazan band live felt like destiny.
The Control Tour itself is a hail to Pedro the Lion’s biggest selling record, released in 2002. It’s a sort of a rock opera or a concept album, with its plot line about a man and a wife, but I’m not here to do a review of the record. I’m here to tell you that the trio performing it live does it amazingly well. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better drummer for a songwriter than Alex Westcoat, who nailed every single song live; Andy Fitz, the bassist, did a great job on all the harmonies, too. Many of the songs featured different arrangements than the studio versions of the Bazan solo or Pedro the Lion songs I love, and I get the feeling that this is true with most tours based on the live recordings by them I’ve heard before. I’m sure veterans of the live show would say it’s still fresh. It was my first time, and all I can say is everyone was great at everything.
Honestly, some of the songs are depressing and sad songs about a man facing his religion or his love betraying him or him betraying his love – all deep, intense matters – and not all of them are fast paced, rock-out style songs. Some fans might expect the live show to be boring, but it just never was. Bazan’s got a soul that bears itself in his voice, and even though he’s a bigger guy, he still punk rock jumped when rock out time came. He did a Q&A with the audience multiple times and answered a ton of questions, including one question about a particular section of the bible (“…It sounds made up…”), and one a question about a Pedro the Lion song he wouldn’t play live.
They did this tour to try to sell the remastered vinyl of the entire Pedro discography. Watching the powerful ending of “Rejoice”, its slow and jarring chords entering into silence, I wish I had bought the complete collection when it came autographed. If you’re a Pedro the Lion fan, or a David Bazan fan, you should see him on tour sometime, because it’s amazing. If you’re a vinyl collector, you should probably buy Control remastered. I doubt I’ll ever get another live show that means so much to me, but I can always put on a vinyl.
Somewhere, I owe David Bazan a thank you; not just for writing those songs that changed my life, but for doing them justice.