The Head and the Heart Show Review
March 25, 2012
The Pageant: St. Louis, MO
I’m trying to remember the last time a true opening band so utterly blew me out of the water, like Drew Grow and the Pastors’ Wives did when opening for The Head and the Heart. I think the last time that the main act was so completely outshined in my eyes was when I saw Howie Day, and he was overshadowed by a little unknown named Missy Higgins. As embarrassing as it may seem now to have chosen to go to a Howie Day show, his early work was solid and contained some cool use of looping. Disappointingly, he almost completely forsook looping for the live show, his set really sucked except for “Ghost”, and Todd accidentally hit on a 15-year old that was there with her dad (honest mistake, and we were only 18 or 19 when we went to this show – still embarrassing).
Similarly to the Howie Day/Missy Higgins show, I was completely unaware of The Pastors’ Wives, just as I was of Missy Higgins. Dissimilarly, The Head and the Heart were really, really good but just simply outshined by a band who performed music that is a little more to my taste. Also, for full disclosure, there was another opener before The Pastors’ Wives, and for a period of time my buddies and I thought that we were actually experiencing The Head and the Heart when The Pastors’ Wives came on. I was quite embarrassed when told by another concert-goer who we were actually seeing.
Now that all the disclaimers, embarrassments, and back story are out of the way, it would probably be productive to talk about the actual music a little bit more, and I’m going to focus on The Pastors’ Wives because they earned it. The song that really cemented their status as something special was “Friendly Fire”, which you can listen to here. The studio version doesn’t completely do “Friendly Fire” justice, as Drew Grow started off the performance a cappella, and then slowly implemented backing music. Very few performances I have seen have been so soulful, moving, and raw than the performance of “Friendly Fire”. The best comparison I can make is Grace Potter’s early-career performances of “Nothing But the Water”, before she went all “Paris” on us. The crescendo of this performance ended with Grow wailing “Cope, Cope, Cope, Cope, Cope, Cope, Cope, Cope…Or Break” repeatedly.
Another of The Pastors’ Wives highlights was “Company”; a song that’s lyrics describe very candidly an up and down relationship over some filthy guitar, bass, and organ. “I’ll walk out and you’ll start yelling. Later we’ll be back in bed. Darling, I wanna be just what you need”. This type of schizophrenic lyrical pattern goes on throughout the song, and Grow’s delivery makes you feel he is delivering the song directly to its subject.
Whether it’s as an opener or headliner, I recommend everyone try to check out Drew Grow and The Pastors’ Wives if they are in your area. The focus of this article being on The Pastors’ Wives is not an indictment of any kind on the performance of The Head and the Heart by any means. They were as advertised a very good live act, and upstaged their studio material, which I personally find to be decent, but not great. If you are a big fan of the studio material, then you will almost definitely love them live even more than I did.
Drew Grow and the Pastors’ Wives: 10/11
The Head and the Heart: 8/11
Can’t Miss: “Company” & “Friendly Fire” by Drew Grow and the Pastors Wives; “Lost in my Mind” by The Head and the Heart” (I know this is their big hit, but it was such a great performance and crowd pleaser that it was a real highlight)
Can’t Hit: Nothing was really bad or lackluster. Both bands really brought everything they had performance-wise in my opinion.
Epilogue: There is probably a lot more backstory to that Howie Day concert that could be of some interest, and maybe I will talk to Todd and Wes about doing a whole post on it. The 15-year old with her dad thing was just the tip of the iceberg. Missy Higgins being so awesome led to Todd and I having years-worth of arguments over which one of us will eventually end up with Missy Higgins. After the show, we had to get off the highway because of an accident, I took a wrong turn and ended up driving like 10 miles toward a dead end, and had a legendary freak-out that ended in some course language and me parking the car in the middle of the road and pacing around for a while. I’m sure some other stuff happened along the way, but it was a horrible show (from Howie Day’s end at least), that was still completely worth it.