To the backdrop of a lit screen resembling digital sequins, Cass McCombs and his band descended onto the stage of Bowery Ballroom. Despite the glittering panels, Cass and his band were enshrouded in darkness with all overhead lights off. They rambled into “Love Thine Enemy” from his last album, Humor Risk to start. With only periodic camera flashes to reveal Cass’s facial expressions, this was a concert where audience members were forced to listen and less about the antics of the artist, not that Cass would oblige. He leaves his songs to tell his stories. He barely chatted, only to open with a “hi” and “how’s everyone?” and a thank you with introductions for his band at the tail end.
Borrowing largely from Humor Risk, Wit’s End and Catacombs, Cass and his gang of four melded nicely throughout the set on “My Sister, My Spouse,” “Buried Alive” and “The Same Thing”. The gents on lap steel and keys really enveloped the wayward nature of the nomad singer-songwriter’s compositions. Some songs even ensued praise from concert goers as one shouted “That was niiiiice,” after the conclusion of “Harmonia”. A few deviations from the trio of last albums were “My Master” from the A album, the tribute/protest song “Bradley Manning” and “Angel Blood”, which had been played plenty in the fall 2011 tour and captured by Pitchfork and Daytrotter.
The appropriate swan song of the night had to be “County Line,” which you could feel the crowd anticipating. NPR labelled “a song for ever time” and that it is. For Wednesday night’s rendition in New York, the bluesy waltz was stretch for maximum appeal. The perfect lullaby to send this writer back to her own county line (Kings).