When Band of Horses didn’t start at 9:30 as people expected, a buzz of discontent in the crowd started to build. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before Ben Bridwell, Tyler Ramsey and Ryan Monroe took to the stage behind the piano to perform “Neighbor”, with Bridwell and Monroe gazing into each others eyes and Ramsey hovering above. The guys joked they’d end the song with a “camera solo” as there were a number of photographers in the front and to the sides (me included) snapping away. I admit it must have been annoying for the band (and probably attendees) given the performance was entirely acoustic but the few minutes of trouble was worth it to catch the intimate performance. The low, small stage meant the band was basically two feet away from the audience as they performed.
In a way, this show was a final preview of Band of Horses’ forthcoming live album, the simply titled, Acoustic at the Ryman that comes out next month — they had done some acoustic shows on tour in the past year or so. And just like the John Legend performance the previous night, this show was part of the Citi Presents Evenings with Legends series, and if you were able to or had interest, a Super Bowl related conversation transpired before the show, with Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic chatting with Mike Ditka on coaching and the big game. Sports talk came up during the show as Bridwell asked the audience who they were rooting for in the Super Bowl. The Seattle-based band didn’t outright admit their desire for the Seahawks to win or at least I didn’t hear it.
Unsurprisingly, Band of Horses biggest hits were the most widely applauded. The stripped down “Laredo” from Infinite Arms still had a lot of edge to lyrics like “a kitchen knife to my face”. “Is there a Ghost?” was a fitting choice given the venue is host to the immersive theater experience, Sleep No More, a take on Macbeth which has its audience donning masks. For “No One’s Gonna Love You”, the second to last song, Bridwell performed solo though it was hard to see what was happening from the back and others may have joined him as the song went on. Either way, the full band returned for one last number and the audience left thrilled by the experience.