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Published: 2012/05/07
by Adam Crawford

Leftover Salmon, The Handlebar, Greenville, SC – 4/24

The anticipation for Leftover Salmon’s spring tour in support of their upcoming album has been high for a few weeks. It’s the first extended tour from Leftover Salmon in some time. They are hitting a lot of areas of the country with a palpable excitement on both sides of the stage. A Tuesday night show in Greenville, South Carolina felt like it might be a tough spot to live up to the expectations, but Leftover Salmon definitely did.

The crowd at the Handlebar in downtown Greenville was probably a little smaller than the band has been used to on this tour, but the attendees were amped up and ready for some Salmon. Leftover Salmon opened the show with “Lonesome Road” and “Jokester” before they really settled in with a solid “Gold Hill Line.” “Sing Up to the Moon” is a new Vince Herman tune that will be on the upcoming album, yet it feels like old Leftover Salmon and one senses it could develop into a staple. “Dance On Your Head” has become an anthem during festival season. The energy during the song is always great and it was no different at the Handlebar. “Little Maggie” is another old favorite and allowed Emmitt to open up a bit on his mandolin.

The title track of the new album, “Aquatic Hitchiker” came next and is another solid new tune that featured banjoist Andy Thorn leading the way. Thorn is a great addition to Leftover Salmon. He can really play the banjo and it felt like he brought a young exuberance to the stage. “Bend in the River” led into the highlight of the night starting with “The L&N” that featured some great jamming up front from Emmitt, Herman, and Thorn. From here, Salmon segued into “I’m On My Way Back to the Hold Home” which led into “Jack London” before coming back to closeout “The L&N.” This sequence offered some great jams and seamless transitions with a lot of energy.

The second set opened with a very tight “High On a Mountaintop.” Drew Emmitt led the way on vocals and mandolin, providing some great solos that set the stage for some very controlled jamming. Emmitt, Herman, and Thorn did a fantastic job interplaying solos amongst one another in a very thoughtful way. Next came “Liza” from the new album which is sung by Vince Herman. This tune has a happy-go-lucky feel to it as it hints at some reggae sounds. The jam out of “Liza” was very much like the “High On a Mountaintop” set opener. It was very controlled with a lot of thoughtful soloing but the reggae vibe got the dancers in the Handlebar going.

The middle portion of the second set lost some of the cohesion the band had shown earlier. “Here Comes the Night” is a new tune that features Drew Emmitt plugged in on an electric guitar. The song is rock’n’roll Salmon and the group could use some more time to work some of the kinks out, but Emmitt seemed to enjoy pulling off some licks. From here Emmitt would be plugged in for many of the songs that followed, which caused tunes like “Mama Boulet” to feel a bit out of place because he moved back to his mandolin.

The band picked up momentum as the set drew to a close, culminating with the Salmon staple “Up On the Hill Where They Do the Boogie.” This tune is always a crowd pleaser and they delivered a scorcher in Greenville. Emmitt had some soaring solos on the electric mandolin and Andy Thorn answered with some great work on the banjo. The whole band was really in sync and had the Handlebar in a frenzy.

An encore of “Keep Driving” and “Wake and Bake” sent the masses home happy. Leaving the Handlebar, you had to be excited about the future of Leftover Salmon. The old Salmon tunes were well played with plenty of life and the new tunes were sprinkled in nicely throughout the night even if they might need to stretch their legs a bit more. All things considered one thing was certain at the Handlebar on this night, it sure felt nice to see a Salmon show.

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