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April 26, 2002 - House of Blues (Back Porch Records)

By: Rick Cipes

Cracker Lights it Up

In direct contrast to the usual "groan" we sometimes embody after a concert...the senses having been dulled to the point where you can't wait to get out of the venue and home to your internet's a rarity when you witness enough stage enthusiasm to stoke your fire and send you out on to the street high. Contrary to the title of their signature song "Low," Cracker spiked the punch and rocked the House of Blues Friday night, sending everyone home flying.

Their two-hour set mixed several cuts off their solid new album Forever with old favorites like the aforementioned "Low" and the tongue-in-cheek "Euro-trash Girl"; the latter's chorus influencing several audience members to jump in and sing-a-long.

Lyrically, Cracker is right up there with some of the masters of wit and irony; their playful compositions feature references to things like getting high, being guarded by monkeys, and everything from getting "a tattoo in Berlin and a case of the crabs"(Euro-trash Girl) to "What the world needs now are some true words of wisdom, like la, la, la, la, la, la, la," (Teen Angst). And what makes Cracker's wordplay so effective is that they never deliver it with a wink and nod to the audience, they just surge forward with an infectious camaraderie that makes musicians like the Gallagher brothers look like Middle Eastern Battle Bots.

In terms of performance, lead singer David Lowery is the grounded one...following the path of least resistance like he has been reading from the book of Zen or watching too many Kung-Fu episodes, whereas lead guitarist Johnny Hickman is the yang to Lowery's yin, the warrior who lets his twanging solos and boyish exuberance fill the room while Lowery kicks back with his unique, likeable rasp and lets the audience come to him. Together, with solid support from drummer Frank Funaro, keyboardist Kenny Margolis, and Lowery's cousin Brandy Wood (who seemed a little down in the saddle) on bass, the band's entire set was solid, leaving no stoners unturned.

There were too many highlights to name them all, but a few included: a cover of the Kinks tune "Victoria" and the lyrically-poetic ballad "Big Dipper." The most pleasurable part of the evening was the final song before the encore, "Crackersoul," in which band members switch instruments, all taking their turn center stage to shout out their personal raps.

One note of "low" during the evening came in the form of the opening band, Sound of Urchin. Who knows how a band so diametrically different than Cracker got the slot (politics?), but the hills were not alive with the sound of music; basically just an agro- style and a vocabulary laced with pretty much one word (fuck), spewed over and over again between every song by their lead singer. Hey, come to think of it, that's pretty much how the audience felt...fucked...until Cracker took the stage to light up the real stuff.

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