with For Stars
The Sapphire Supper Club • July 2, 2001
Driving an hour and half, one way, on a Monday night isn’t exactly my idea of fun. However, this journey was well worth the long ride and sleep deprivation to see two excellent acts. Mark Eitzel, touring to support his most recent release, The Invisible Man, was headlining at The Sapphire Supper Club, along with the opening act, For Stars. What I expected was greatness, and both artists did not fail to deliver.
Opening act For Stars took the stage roughly about 10:00 PM, and proceeded to play several tracks off their new album, a forthcoming EP, and several older tracks. Sounding at times like a pissed off version of Low, the band was in excellent spirits and sounded fabulous. They dedicated one song, “Wires,” to a member of the audience. At times, the lead singer, Carlos Forster, would joke with audience and seemed to be genuinely pleased to be there. After closing with a track that Carlos introduced as, “based on my other life, where I am a race car driver,” the band left the stage for the headliner.
Now, I must confess, I am a huge Mark Eitzel fan, and I was both hopeful and nervous about seeing him live. Hopeful that the show would be as good as I expected, and nervous that the crowd might piss him off. However, my fears quickly subsided as Mark began by tearing through several of the tracks off the new album. The songs were excellent live and benefited from the incredible skill of his support band. Lacking a “proper” drum set, the drummer, Eric Gebow, utilized a mixture of samples to provide the rhythm section. Kristin Sobditch alternated between bass and keyboards, while Marc Capelle provided an ethereal slide and electric guitar. The show, however, remained Eitzel’s. I believe he was somewhat taken back by the enraptured audience, and while not effusive on stage, he demonstrated an incredible stage presence. Several times during the show, the band left, while Mark played some of his better known tracks from his days with the American Music Club solo. This included an inspired version of “Western Sky” and a jaw-dropping version of “I’ve Been a Mess.”
If you have never heard any of Mark Eitzel’s music with the American Music Club or one of his several solo releases, you are missing one of the greatest – if not the greatest– singer-songwriter alive today. The tour is approaching its end, but if you get the chance, take it. You won’t be disappointed. ◼