Joe Hawley live in Ann Arbor, 6/23/16

Yesterday I had the pleasure of finally seeing my first Tally Hall show! (well, Tally Hall-affiliated show, that is.)

The show was a free outdoor concert in Ann Arbor with the band JR JR, sponsored by Ann Arbor’s 107one.  Joe Hawley was slated to do a 30-minute opening set.  I got there early, so I caught a lot of sound checks before the concert started.  Slowly a meager crowd of fans with black Tally Hall shirts began filling in the space in front of the stage.  Joe himself was waiting around nearby and spoke with us for a little while before the show started.  He was very nice.

During sound checks, Joe took the stage with his guitar and cell phone to test mic levels when used with some backing tracks.  He actually played the entirety of an unreleased song, which appeared to be Bahamian Rap City from the Joe Hawley Joe Hawley ad twins video!  It was a catchy tune mixing sung vocals and rapping.  The lyrics seemed to be about protecting the environment.

Finally, the show formally started around 11:30.  Joe took the stage with his acoustic guitar, kazoo, and megaphone, and played a short kazoo intro before introducing himself.  The introduction was a little somber, as he recalled the days of rehearsing with Tally Hall nearby and said how much he missed the guys.  He also stated that some the songs would have a few verses omitted since he was playing without his fellow band members.

The show started with a few purely acoustic songs- A Lady, The Bidding, and Hymn for a Scarecrow. After the bridge, Hymn for a Scarecrow moved into a short cover of Space Oddity by David Bowie, which replaced the usually chaotic orchestration in the middle of the song.  Joe then plugged in his phone and played Spring and a Storm and Variations on a Cloud with backing tracks.  Variations on a Cloud fittingly transitioned into a short cover of Jump by Van Halen, giving the song a whole new meaning.  Jump’s lyrics in context with Variations on a Cloud take on a much darker meaning, considering the September 11th-themed video released last year (especially during the chorus; “Might as well Jump”).  After that, Joe introduced JR JR and took his leave.

Overall it was a great show, and it was very exciting to get to hear Variations on a Cloud and Bahamian Rap City* played for the first time live.  Joe played barefoot, which he said was calling back to one of Tally Hall’s earliest shows at the Blind Pig years back in 2005.  I feel pretty lucky for getting to catch this rare appearance.  I hope more shows will come as Joe releases his new album later this year!

* Bahamian Rap City was played during sound check only

Set List:

  • Kazoo Intro
  • A Lady
  • The Bidding
  • Hymn for a Scarecrow (w/ cover of Space Oddity by David Bowie)
  • Spring and a Storm
  • Variations on a Cloud (w/ cover from Jump by Van Halen)

A cool fan named Ryan caught some footage of Spring and a Storm here:

Thanks Coz for letting me write this review up!

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