Saturday, November 17, 2007

Nickel Creek reviewed by Josh Mallory

Nickel Creek has played Birmingham many times before and seemed to be grateful for all the support as their farewell tour rolled through the Magic City. The “new grass” trio, comprised of Sarah Watkins, Chris Thile and Sean Watkins, is calling it quits, at least for now.

They kicked off the night at the Alabama Theatre with the instrumental “Ode to a Butterfly” and then performed crowd favorites. As usual, they played extremely well and their quirky stage banter delivered some laughs.

The highlights of the show were the songs that showed off their tight harmonies, such as “Reasons Why” “Somebody More like You” and “Helena.” Few acts can harmonize so tightly over and over.

Further underscoring their humor was the bands performance of “Anthony” around an old-timey microphone with Sarah Watkins playing the ukulele. The song centers around a woman bound to win over a resistant lover, and the band played it for laughs well.

The band did have a few surprises, most notable a cover of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” sung by Sarah, suddenly without her fiddle. The crowd responded enthusiastically.

The band received one of the loudest applauses I’ve heard at the Alabama Theatre, which lead to a long encore.

The band performed a hilarious version of “Toxic,” complete with Chris Thile giving his interpretation of Spears’ sexy dances. They played “Eveline,” an interpretation of a James Joyce story, in response to a request saying it was the first time the song had ever been requested.

It was a bittersweet show. Nickel Creek has such a strong fan base in Birmingham, and this was a goodbye. The band was great, which only made saying goodbye harder at the end of the night.

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