October 29, 2019
AURA - Portland, ME.
Review And Photos By David Metcalf
There is that magical moment in a concert when you decide that a particular song or passage is the center of the whole experience and your memory of that show revolves around that song. For me, that moment had its origin a while ago in Dallas, TX when Blue October filmed the show that became a DVD/BluRay release called “Things We Do at Night.” It was the first time I saw a live performance of the song “Say It,” and I was convinced that what I was seeing was one of the most potent and effective displays of musical bravado that I had seen in a very, very long time.
Justin Furstenfeld, the center of stellar band filled out by his brother Jeremy on drums, Ryan Delahoussaye on violin, mandolin and keys, Matt Novesky on bass and (newest member) Will Knaak on lead guitar, could be defined as a poet, a shaman, a past diva and (most inarguably) a fucking brilliant and moving artist in the truest of senses. Tuesday, October 29th’s exhibition in Portland, ME at AURA was a potent display of this (with a little Gulf Coast area TX voodoo thrown in). The celebration began with an uplifting performance by opening band New Dialogue. Hailing from Los Angeles, CA, the band was enthusiastic and effective in charming the audience with their brief set. Their “new sounds meets vintage heart” style worked well with the pedigree that Blue October’s set was about to deliver.
Rumbling out to the swagger of “Coal Makes Diamonds” that is the lead song off the “Home” album from 2016, Justin Furstenfeld pushed his way out from behind the shadows of the intimate stage that is AURA in Portland. This pulsing heartbeat gave way and relented into “Say It” and this particular concert attendee was most happy being enveloped in the sturm und drang of an early treat of (spoiler alert!) my favorite song of the band. The biggest reception came midway through the set with “Into the Ocean,” particularly with Justin’s hilarious, but endearing telling of what inspired the massive hit song from the “Foiled” release from 2006. The night’s performance honored chapters of the past from a select discography -- pulling heavily from the “Sway,” “Home,” and “Foiled” releases, as well as a few key tracks from “I Hope You’re Happy,” the band’s most recent release. The show closed with this title track and Justin and the band’s connection with their audience was as undeniable at the end as it was at the opening of this celebration. Seeing the beauty in life, while honoring and growing from the diversions that ultimately help define us, is a mantra that seems to permeate Blue October’s catalog. With a new live release coming soon from the band (“Live from Manchester” out on November 29th, 2019), I can’t wait for the next chapter in the beautiful narrative that is Justin Furstenfeld and Blue October. Here’s hoping that they return to Portland, ME soon...
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