Trashcan Sinatras - Philadelphia - 09/19/04

By paul

Trashcan Sinatras
Philadelphia, The Trocadero
Sunday September 19, 2004

The thing that struck me immediately when walking into the Trocadero the night that the Trashcan Sinatras played was the posters of the cover art for Weightlifting with the words "Welcome back..." written on the bottom. There was a tangible sense that the TCS were returning to finally make right all the wrong that they have endured in the past several years. With a new, gorgeous album, their "classic TCS lineup" in place (with Davie Hughes on bass), I was hoping I would get to see the band in top form and I did.

The best thing about the TCS is that their songs can be so deceptively simple at first listen, but after you listen again and again you start to appreciate all the nuances that make their songs so very special. When seeing a band like this live, the best you can hope for is that hearing these songs live will make you go back to the albums and hear these songs in new ways. This is exactly what TCS did that night.

I'm not sure who was the opening band that night, but they seemed like a lazier version of Reverend Horton Heat... some sort of Texas Chili Cook-off bar band at the State fair - but on crack - is my best approximation. All things being fair, they weren't that bad, but seriously mismatched for a band like TCS.

Roddy Hart, a singer/songwriter, who hails from Scotland as well, was the next up with his acoustic guitar and, for several songs, a piano to accompany him. His songs were a much better match for TCS and very good at that.

With an intro of "Let's Go Away For A While" (Beach Boys, from "Pet Sounds") the Trashcan Sinatras walked on stage to rapturous applause and went right into "Got Carried Away". Not having seen any setlists from previous shows (didn't want to spoil the surprise), I was a bit surprised that we didn't hear "Welcome Back" to start off the show with a roar, but then again TCS's song never need to be that bombastic to accomplish what they do. If you have never seen TCS live, they reap the benefits of a few things: (1) an excellent rhythm section - Stephen Douglas is an amazing drummer and Davie Hughes compliments him well. (2) multiple sets of guitars - Roddy Hart took the stage again to play with TCS to add an extra guitar in the mix and also handle keyboards as well. (3) Lots of great voices. Not only is Frank's voice amazing, but Stephen and John Douglas add theirs to the mix. (4) Paul Livingston's guitar work - He gets the most incredible sounds out of his guitars, which almost never outshine the songs themselves, but only highlight their strengths. Paul uses just enough echo and reverb to give the songs a slightly ethereal texture.

Some of the evening's highlights were "What Women Do To Men" and "Weightlifting" where Paul's guitars made heavenly noises that approached the Cocteau Twins or the Sundays. "Send For Henny" always sounds great live and with Frank picking up a guitar (as well as John, Paul and Roddy) the sound was dense and powerful. For "Trouble Sleeping" Frank brought out a recorder to play, but rarely picked up an instrument otherwise. For most of the show Frank was very much into what he was singing, mostly leaving the mike stand behind to free himself up to sing. "Orange Fell" (another example of Paul's incredible guitar work) and "The Genius I Was" were nice surprises and the 1 song from "Cake", "Only Tongue Can Tell" was received warmly. "All The Dark Horses" and "A Coda" sounded great live too, easily proving that TCS have been living with these songs for a while and perfected their delivery. During the encore, when Frank started to sing "time is up" during "The Therapist" there was an immediate feeling that this had all passed to quickly. The crowd applauded loudly for another encore but alas, the night was over.

Here's the setlist (from

1. got carried away
2. easy read
3. it's a miracle
4. how can i apply...?
5. what women do to men
6. only tongue can tell
7. all the dark horses
8. a coda
9. hayfever
10. trouble sleeping
11. the genius i was
12. country air
13. i've seen everything
14. leave me alone
15. the safecracker
16. send for henny
17. weightlifting
18. orange fell
19. the hairy years
20. the therapist