Review: Marc Cohn at the Westhampton Beach Peforming Arts Center

Marc Cohn & band
Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center
Sunday 2008 August 24 8:30 PM

It’s my habit to see Marc Cohn every chance I get during the New York leg of his tours. This explains why, three days after my last Cohn concert, I schlepped all the way out along Long Island’s southern shore to Westhampton. Tonight he had no opener; it was just his band and him. The WHBPAC is an intimate space, acoustically rich and comfortable. It lacks the grandeur of St. George’s Theater but is quite nice for a modern building.

As before, the playlist is below the fold. I don’t have as many comments, as many of the songs are the same.

  1. Live Out the String : Like before, Mr. Cohn opened with the “poppest” song from the latest album Join the Parade.
  2. Girl of Mysterious Sorrow : Songs from Burning the Daze have been very rare for Mr. Cohn to play, for reasons I’ve not heard. This is one of the more haunting and beautiful tunes from that album, and this version was amazing. I suspect that he played this because he did not have the wonder-keyboard as mentioned at the last show and so couldn’t do “Ghost Train”. (He actually mentioned this explicitly.)
  3. Perfect Love : Mr. Cohn mentioned that he had the good fortune of having James Taylor sing backup on this, despite it being Cohn’s debut album — possibly, he admitted, because he modeled the tune on Taylor’s “Shower the People You Love With Love”.
  4. The Calling (Charlie Christian’s Tune)
  5. Dance Back From the Grave: Mr. Cohn related again the tale of how he overheard a poet Rick Bragg speaking after the impact of Hurrican Katrina and knew he had to write a song based on the poet’s words. He also said it had particular resonance for him “because about ten days earlier, I’d been shot”. This refers to an incident after a show in Colorado(?), wherein someone tried to carjackMr. Cohn’s van.
  6. 29 Ways
  7. Listening to Levon
  8. Healing Hands : A surprise second song from Burning the Daze, played with tenderness.
  9. Walking in Memphis: I look forward to this song because it always brings out the storyteller in Mr. Cohn. Tonight he commented that he and his wife had been wandering around Westhampton Beach and seen all the posters for this concert, as well as ones for Chris Isaak. But Mr. Isaak’s posters had the tagline “Songs that will break your heart” while Mr. Cohn’s read “Returning to his musical roots”. Mock-indignant, Mr. Cohn asserted “I have a song or two to break your heart. And I don’t think I ever left my musical roots.” For the rest of the night, he played up an imagined rivalry with Mr. Isaak.
  10. Miles Away:

That marked the end of the official set, as before. Tonight, when he returned, Mr. Cohn called out for requests and listened for quite some time sorting through the songs. As you’ll see, they ended up being many of the same as previously, leading me to suspect he waits until he hears people call the songs he wants to play anyway. 🙂 But he did allow some variation. At first he dismissed all the requests as “Some very nice songs by Gordon Lightfoot” and then he sighed dramatically when someone called for “Wicked Games by Chris Isaak”.

  1. Paper Walls
  2. Silver Thunderbird
  3. True Companion
  4. Strangers in a Car
  5. Let Me Be Your Witness: He played this even though, as he explicitly noticed, no one had gotten around to calling for it.
  6. One Safe Place

There was only one encore set but as you can see, it was longer.

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