“Hey, y’all, this is my friend Tyler Ramsey,” he’d say about the guitarist to his left.
Or, “I want you to meet my friend Ryan Monroe,” referring to the band’s keyboard player.
That interaction between band and crowd seemed to be a theme throughout the special evening, which kicked off a brief acoustic tour to coincide with their amazing new album Acoustic at the Ryman. It was clear they were cultivating a family atmosphere—a “come on in, kick off your shoes and join us in the living room” type of celebration.
Following opening set from Steve McBean of Pink Mountaintops (in addition to Vancouver psych collective Black Mountain), Bridwell, Ramsey, Monroe and bassist Bill Reynolds took their spots and launched into a quiet version of “Neighbor,” with the song’s warm vocals filling up the classic venue.
Considering how Acoustic at the Ryman contains only 10 tracks—a veritable greatest hits compilation from Band of Horses’ robust catalog—they could have gone in a lot of directions when filling out their live setlist. For sure, it was exciting to watch the guys mix things up throughout the performance while obviously have fun doing it.
After “Neighbor” came “Marry Song” and “Slow Cruel Hands of Time,” two more that highlight the group’s rich harmonies, led by Bridwell’s heartfelt croon.
Five songs in, the Horses kicked up the tempo with a rollicking “Laredo,” a gem off 2010′s Infinite Arms, and “Is There a Ghost” from 2007′s Cease to Begin.
Bridwell then presented Ramsey, who frequently opens for the full band as a solo artist. Ramsey demonstrated why he is more than capable of handling those duties with a brief solo interlude on his guitar before everyone joined in on the plaintive “Everything’s Gonna Be Undone” and an uplifting version of “The Great Salt Lake.”
Bridwell then laughed when he stood and walked to a microphone at center stage, stating, “Here’s something different,” as his bandmates left him alone with his guitar for “St. Augustine.”
When Ramsey, Reynolds and Monroe came back out with their instruments and big smiles on their faces, Bridwell asked the audience, “Can you tell we like each other?”
Everyone stood at the mic with Bridwell for “Factory” and a few more hits, such as “Ode to LRC” and “Compliments.”
No Band of Horses concert would be complete without “Weed Party” and the soaring “No One’s Gonna Love You,” which helped close the regularly scheduled proceedings.
Of course, they had to come back out for an encore, as well, and that took the form of “Evening Kitchen” and “The Funeral,” sending everyone out into the cool L.A. night satisfied.
There might have been a few hiccups along the way— a guitar needing a quick tune here, a monitor needing an adjustment there— but that all contributed to the laid-back vibe of event.
Not only did Band of Horses touch on highlights from each of their four studio albums, but Tuesday’s tour-opening show was also an excellent display of the group’s prodigious talent.