American Analog Set has been around for more than ten years in various incarnations, but Andrew Kenny has always been at the creative helm. This tour, in support of this year’s Set Free (Arts and Crafts), is purported to be the band’s last for awhile – maybe forever. The members are all set to pursue different interests, although the band is not breaking up. But on this night in Hollywood, they are on.
The show isn’t sold out, but you can’t tell that by the performance. The slinky melodies and angular percussive underpinnings are so thick and seductive tonight that I cannot fight being swept up. The standout tracks from 2003’s Promise of Love – “Hard to Find” and “Come Home Baby, Julie, Come Home” – are pure magic. Live, they take on a little journey through the thick rhythmic throes of nodding heads and pointy elbows rocking in sync with the next knot of people.
The new songs from Set Free melt around us and pool at our feet, only to creep up along our legs and get us swaying along with Sean Ripple, the aptly named lithe percussionist/vibraphonist who gives American Analog Set the groove. A man could not be better suited for slinking and gyrating with maracas like a human metronome, so hypnotic is he in his musical raptures.
And then cornerstone track “The Green Green Grass” bubbles up to take its full-on form, the band in perfect precision. This anthem rises up: It’s like finding the slipstream in a warm, swiftly flowing river and letting your body float along with it over swells and rocks. It’s the kind of song that stays with you long after the gig is over and creeps back up on you as you fall asleep, like soft, big hands guiding your hips and shoulders in a head-nod sway. Just go, just go and let the music tumble over you, waterfall you, and get lost in the sound.
What better way to spend a few hours on a crisp L.A. night than in the clutches of this very able, beautiful music? It’s a pity we can’t look forward to another tour to take us away.