I will admit that I went to see Brad because Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard is in it. Brad has been around about as long as Pearl Jam though the latter has been infinitesimally more popular now. But aside from a few moments where Gossard’s guitar sounded like something from a Pearl Jam song, the hearty music was reminiscent of the North Mississippi All-stars in their blues, but dirtier and more rock oriented. I, along with numerous Phillies fans, thoroughly enjoyed their performance at World Café Live.
Their four albums, Shame, Interiors, Welcome to Discovery Park and 2010’s new Best Friends?, cover a range of almost 18 years or more. Brad’s set pulled from this back catalog as well as from the works of a now-defunct side project, Satchel. The original line-up has altered slightly. Keith Lowe, Gossard’s friend from Hank Khoir, is the current touring bassist. Rounding out the band with Gossard and Lowe were vocalist Shawn Smith and drummer Regan Hagar both of which have been involved with other bands including Pigeonhead or Malfunkshun. Additionally, tour opener Happy Chichester contributed keyboards at the World Cafe.
Shawn Smith, somewhat hidden under a brimmed hat and his long hair, is a powerful and talented crooner. His warm voice instilled each and every song, all unfamiliar to me, into a welcoming embrace as if they were familiar friends or old favorites. He alternated between performing soulful keyboard melodies to standing at the microphone but always focused on his vocal duties. The intense dynamics between the two guitar companions, bare-foot Lowe and Gossard, also attributed to the show’s affable vibe.
The crowd was requesting Satchel songs (a band I never heard of) right from the start, though I didn’t know one from another, with Smith dedicating one to some guy wearing Satchel t-shirt in the front. From the new album came songs like the brooding “Price of Love” and the affirming and uplifting “Believe in Yourself”. During a solo segment, Smith belted out a few tunes including “Purple Rain” with the crowd singing-along. The impressive song “Screen” earned resounding applause from the crowd as they recognized its piano melody.
When the show was over, a fan jumped onto the stage and grabbed a setlist. He, just like everyone else, wanted to remember Brad’s performance that night, especially when considering the uncertainty and infrequency of their touring.