FRANK BLACK & THE CATHOLICS at the Horseshoe, April 16. Tickets: $20. Attendance: 500 (sold out). Rating: NNN
it was remarkable that frank
Black and the Catholics played at all on Monday night.
A not-so Good Friday saw someone in Philly unhitch the five-piece band's trailer and steal all their equipment. After raiding Capsule Music on Easter Monday, the rather particular Black and friends came up with a close facsimile of their original gear and then spent the next several hours getting acquainted with it.
Once the band started, though, they didn't know when to stop. Monday's marathon set at the Horseshoe -- the first of three sold-out gigs -- seemed like two or three different performances. Styles changed every few tunes, and three hours and more than three dozen songs later, early entries like a roughed-up stomp through Tom Waits's The Black Rider seemed like they might have been played at a different show.
Black dealt with the obvious stuff first. Rumours had been circulating that the burly guitarist had broken his embargo and was playing Pixies songs for the first time in years. Remarkably, Black didn't leave them for the encore, beginning the show with Nimrod's Son and slipping The Holiday Song and a handful more in.
Maybe the price of hearing old favourites was having to stand through the endless, meandering bits of twang pop that clogged up the show. Black's chord changes are quite predictable. Even when you don't know the songs, you have a pretty good idea of where they're going to go.
Unfortunately, that meant that after a couple of hours much of Monday's set started to sound the same. By the time Black finally took off his guitar, only the drunk and truly obsessed remained.