Soul Asylum and the Horse They Rode In On

By William Brents

In this day and age of high ticket prices it came as a real surprise when I discovered that for a mere $7 one could catch a true and talented national band like Soul Asylum. But the biggest surprise came when I looked around at all the empty tables and acres of vacant standing room. I don't think anyone ever expects to be cozy at a Soul Asylum show, but on this September 18 evening the Phoenix Hill Tavern was certainly that.

The fair turnout didn't seem to disturb Soul Asylum as they cut loose, delivering one punk-spirited, clever song after another. "Sometime to Return," "Cartoon," "Little Too Clean" and "Marionette" showcased the band's impulse toward their beloved garage-rock roots. Vocalist-guitarist Dave Pirner and fellow guitarist Dan Murphy exchanged fiery licks throughout the set and, with bassist Karl Mueller and drummer Grant Young convincingly laying it down, the momentum was definitely on their side. That was until Pirner felt like playing a medley of covers that set the show back about 15 minutes.

Some of the loosely played covers were the Divinyls' "I Touch Myself," Jesus Jones' "Right Here, Right Now" and Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love."

Thankfully, the band got back to playing their own songs and regained that fleeting momentum with a country-traced "Brand New Shine" and a pleasant ballad in "Grounded." During one rambunctious number Pirner managed to give the phrase "bump and grind" a new meaning with his hilarious Chippendale-like pelvic thrusts. Which wasn't half bad for a skinny musician.

The show wouldn't have been complete without "Gullible's Travels" and "Nice Guys (Don't Get Paid)," two of their finest songs from the band's outstanding 1990 album Soul Asylum and the Horse They Rode ln On.

Ten Foot Pole, a prime fund band from Lexington, opened the show with a topnotch display of musicianship, energy and good-natured humor.