Midnight North at The Mint
Easily, St. Patrick’s Day can be called a war of attrition for staff, entertainment, and all those raising a glass at any establishment selling spirits. The party starts very early and goes very late. For Midnight North, the last of four bands to appear at The Mint on the day, and night, of green, the unstated goal seemed to be to preserve those in attendance upright and dancing.
Starting their set midway through the final hour of the evening, the quintet out of San Francisco kept the train rolling, dipping into a few choice cuts from guitarist Grahame Lesh’s bloodline (Lesh’s father, Phil, being the bassist for the Grateful Dead), offering a pair from the Dead’s early catalog in “Viola Lee Blues” and “Mr. Charlie.” The former, also featured on Midnight North’s current Live from Terrapin Crossroads, was met with eager hollers from the gathered aware of the familial connection. In return, Lesh thanked that weary but enduring crowd for helping him yodel through the rollicking chorus of The Band’s “Up on Cripple Creek.” The group balanced out the classic covers with the mid-temp grooves of their own “Roamin’” and several new songs from their upcoming studio album, Under the Lights, due in June.
There is a warming familiarity about Midnight North, like good comfort food, that maybe didn’t get the chance to settle in on this marathon Friday night. Headlining a St. Patty’s Day show can be a mixed blessing, but Lesh and his multi-instrumental mates—Eliot Peck and Alex Jordan—were bright-eyed, energetic, and appreciative of those that made in to midnight, literally and figuratively, delving into glistening three-party harmony while trading melodic keyboard and guitar phrases that held the jams in check. Yet, after a steady and satisfying, hour-plus performance, there would be no encore. No sooner had the five finished their final song when the Mint’s DJ dropped the needle on a vintage disco track, shifting the celebration back to a club-thumper for those wanting one last jig in the name of the Irish and a beat to move their feet out the door.