It was good to get to see Steve Wynn performing in my favorite church for live gigs the magnificent and sadly crumbling St Pancras old Church that is in need of a little bit of help over at https://posp.co.uk/st-pancras-old-church/ to help repair the cracks in the walls that seem to be getting larger and are mainly caused by all the trains rumbling by.
First on was Benedict Benjamin who is a new or new to me young singer songwriter performing solo he had a nice guitar tone and his voice reminded me a good bit of Richard Warren but sadly his songs weren't that memorable and no matter how much he wanted to Kiss Away the Blues I quickly got the impression that he needed a band behind him to flesh out his rather basic sounding songs. The Way You Talk To Waiters was for me about as good as he got a pretty decent song questioning the behavior of a friend that's worth hearing.
However, the songs about his kid really didn't connect with me at all and the second of those that appeared to be called You're a Motherfucker Baby deserved more than the apology he made before singing it to make it sound right in this setting.
He finished with Thin Skin and I hope he hasn't got one himself as he brought an ok but rather forgettable opening set to a close.
After the break Steve arrived at the pulpit and told us to turn our hymn books to number 335 or whatever number he said and that he was about to begin his sermon with Tears Won't Help At All a song that currently seems so appropriate with the mess the world is an and Steve sounded in fine voice. He then played a really nice version of Grace at really fit in with the church setting before taking us all down to the Medicine Show that was guaranteed to get most of us singing along as the congregation was mainly made up of long term fans who knew all the words despite not having hymn sheets to follow.
Steve was as ever quite chatty between songs and had a nice short tale to relate before he sang The Ambassador Of Soul that sounded really good stripped down like this. We then got Southern California Line that also sounded great played like this rather than with a full band.
We were then treated to two songs from the next Dream Syndicate album These Times that's out on 3rd May and Steve explained that they are about the state of the world we are in now. Black Light was very cool and perfect in a dark church and was followed by Bullet Holes that was as dark as the times deserve and I'm sure they will both sound very different when the Dream Syndicate play at the Scala in October.
Merritville has just enough biblical imagery to almost sound like it was written to be sung in churches although looking round I couldn't see any images of Mathew.
Before singing Cindy, It Was Always You Steve told us about how he came to write the song with George Pelecanos who provided the lyrics and told Steve he could change them as needed and instead Steve just added the music to this great song, and yes I love Georges books that I only started reading due to Steve's connections to him.
Steve then asked if any of us knew his band The Baseball Project and how proud he is to now have more songs about baseball than any other band and he played 1976 the opening song of the bands second album, I love this song about Mark Fidrych and how he sadly died far too young, Steve filled us in on more of the story before singing the song. For a minute I thought he might sing Ted Williams but that would have been pushing things.
Steve then told us the next song was a Bangles cover before singing That's What You Always Say, of course it isn't but does feature on the 3 X 4 album that I'm hoping will arrive here soon so I can hear the bangles version. Steve did a great stripped back version of a song I always love hearing. Glide was next and sounded very different stripped back to the full band version, but it just adds more emphasis onto the lyrics.
He went back to his first solo album for Carolyn a song that really sounded full of love. Steve was then dreaming of being back in Boston once more and I'm sure most of us were too even if I haven't been there since 1986 when I saw a certain Paul B Cutler playing in 45 Grave just before Joining Steve in The Dream Syndicate. He then closed with one of his more recent hits Amphetamine a song I wasn't expecting to hear played solo but it worked brilliantly and was a great closing number to a very cool set.
Of course he came back for an encore that opened with When You Smile that of course got us all smiling and he then played There Will Come A Day and after the first verse he unplugged and walked into the aisle as the congregation joined in to give the song even more of a gospel feel to it that it already had and a great way to end the show.
Well of course we all wanted more so Steve came back for a second encore that he introduced as being by The Band that Rick Danko wrote before singing Stage Fright that was a nice end to a great show.