At most concerts, the encore is a scripted part of the show, taken for granted by both performer and audience. At Johnny D’s last night, Gregory Alan Isakov and his band earned every minute of theirs, and an appreciative crowd made sure they knew it with rousing ovations that quickly pulled the humble Colorado singer-songwriter back to center stage. Twice.
Oh, to be one of the unsuspecting people who wandered into JD’s for dinner, only to be met by this powerhouse performance. Isakov and his band – a cellist, fiddler and keyboard player – were in perfect harmony throughout the 18-song, 90-minute-plus set, balancing crowd-pleasing selections from Isakov’s 2009 breakthrough This Empty Northern Hemisphere and its predecessor, That Sea, The Gambler, alongside more than a half-dozen new songs earmarked for his next release. Despite the steady onslaught of unfamiliar material, the enthusiastic crowd stuck with the band, routinely greeting the quartet with applause that dwarfed the volume of the performance that preceded it.
The new songs ranged from twangy (“I’ll Feed Your Horses”) to surprisingly dark (“Liars”) and saucy (“I Used to Have a Couch”). They played seamlessly against crowd favorites like “That Moon Song,” “The Stable Song” and “3 a.m.” Conspicuously missing from the set was the charming “If I Go, I’m Going,” a Hemisphere track that was featured on a recent episode of Californiacation.
Gregory Alan Isakov’s Setlist:
(New song) / Virginia May / Big Black Car / The Universe / That Moon Song / Evelyn / I’ll Feed Your Horses / Second Chances / Master & a Hound / In Tall Buildings (John Hartford) / The Stable Song / Mercury / Words / (New song) / Liars // I Used to Have a Couch (solo) / 3 a.m. (solo) // Salt and the Sea