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Ben Bridwell, Band of Horses, Uptown Theater Kansas City, photo: Cory Weaver

A Memorable ‘Evening with Band of Horses’ at the Uptown Theater

STORY: Jennifer rolf PHOTOS: Cory Weaver

Band of Horses, the iconic indie five-piece that pulls in elements of rock, folk and Americana, wrapped up their tour at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City on February 18. The set was split into two parts: 10 acoustic and 11 electric songs for their “An Evening with Band of Horses” tour. 


Although admittedly a little worse for the wear at tour’s end, vocalist/guitarist/BOH founder Ben Bridwell was no less excited to be there performing in front of a sold-out crowd on a Sunday night. He bantered with the audience and his bandmates throughout the show, contributing to an engaging and enjoyable experience.


The acoustic part of the set opened with “St. Augustine,” the final track from Everything All the Time, the band’s 2006 debut album on Sub Pop Records. Bridwell, seated with guitar in hand, performed the song solo on a stage decorated with dozens of candles. Ryan Monroe (keyboards, guitar and backing vocals) then emerged and the two performed together on “I Go to the Barn For,” also from the band’s debut album. The rest of BOH, Creighton Barrett (drums), Matt Gentling (bass, backing vocals) and Brett Nash (guitar, backing vocals) soon followed. 


“No One’s Gonna Love You” from BOH’s 2007 follow-up, Cease to Begin, hit the setlist early. The song’s melodic arrangement and deeply felt lyrics make it one of the band’s most popular tracks for good reason, and it was truly a highlight of the show. The lush harmony with Monroe on “Marry Song” was another bright spot in the strong acoustic repertoire. 


Following “Factory,” the band’s sometimes comedic but heartfelt ballad about a hotel experience off of 2010’s Grammy-nominated album Infinite Arms, Bridwell commented that they had played a venue called the Factory the night before outside of St. Louis (Chesterfield) and he hadn’t made the connection with the song.  Other acoustic selections included “Barrel House” (the sole pick from Why Are You OK), “Dilly,” Lights” and “In Need of Repair.” The acoustic set concluded with “Weed Party.”

Ben Bridwell, Band of Horses, Uptown Theater Kansas City, photo: Cory Weaver
Ben Bridwell, Band of Horses, Uptown Theater Kansas City, photo: Cory Weaver
Band of Horses, Uptown Theater Kansas City, photo: Cory Weaver
Band of Horses, Uptown Theater Kansas City, photo: Cory Weaver

After a short break for a changeover to the electric portion of the evening, the five members reemerged. Bridwell joked that management advised him to apologize for the “opening band.” “The General Specific,” underpinned by the piano and elements of folk, led off the electric set. “The First Song,” with its signature BOH sound and the band’s literal first song, was second. 


The only cover of the set was a solid and beautiful rendition of INXS’s “Never Tear Us Apart.” BOH performed this song periodically throughout the tour, and Kansas City was fortunate to be on the list. A few nights earlier at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville they performed it with a string quartet, surely an incredible song to hear live as the original version features strings throughout. 


“Is There a Ghost,” an indie rock anthem and a true BOH classic, reverberated throughout the Uptown with intensifying guitars and atmospheric vocals; it did not disappoint in a live setting. 


Other songs that made the electric cut included “Laredo,” “Crutch,” “The Great Salt Lake,” “Warning Signs,” “Blue Beard” and “Ode to LRC.”


“The Funeral,” the band’s most popular single, is always performed but is not always the finale. In this case, it was, and it was a fitting end to “An Evening With Band of Horses.”  


BOH mixed up their setlists throughout the tour, so songs such as “Detlef Schrempf,” “Part One,” “Monsters” and “NW Apt” were not performed in Kansas City to some fans’ chagrin, but the show overall was a captivating experience for attendees both old and new. Even with noticeable strain in Bridwell’s voice as the tour came to a close, he was able to hit most of his high notes and stayed in touch with the crowd throughout, which made for a genuinely memorable experience.

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