by Margaret Vitalis
PFR with Dogs of Peace and Believable Picnic
September 29th 1996
International Market Square, Minneapolis, MN
This was to be PFR's final show before they called it quits, and mixed emotion was in the air when we arrived. We were all given special programs and complimentary copies of Them, PFR's final studio effort, as we entered the venue.
The concert was held at International Market Square, which was a really unique place to have a concert. The stage was quite small, and the floor area in front of the stage was small as well, but it was just part of a huge area that was surrounded by large balconies that went around all 4 walls of the room, and that's where the majority of people had to stand. It's really indescribable, but it looked really cool. I liked it because even though there was a pretty good-sized crowd there, everyone was dispersed into these little areas. It also made for a nice visual effect. My group was directly behind the main floor, right by the sound and light technicians. We had great view of the stage, without being suffocated in the mosh pit.
Believable Picnic was the first band on. One of the members, Jade Hanson, just so happens to be the brother of PFR's own Joel Hanson. They did a short set of about 4 or 5 songs, including "Days of Joy" "Spacemen" "Wasted" and closed out their set with "Big Fat Nothing." The PFR influence was obvious. I was quite honestly a lot more impressed by their CD than by their live show, but it also seemed like they were working out some bugs with the sound system during that set. At any rate, I look for good things from this band in the future.
Dogs of Peace played the middle set. I'd really been looking forward to hearing them play. This is a duo comprised of Gordon Kennedy and Jimmie Lee Sloas. I'm a longtime fan of Gordon dating back to his days with Whiteheart and his more recent endless writing and studio contributions to seemingly every CD in my collection, and I was also very familiar with some of Jimmie Lee's studio work and writing. I'd picked up their CD several months before, and I was very excited to see how they would sound live. The PFR influence here too was obvious, but, much of PFR's sound can be attributed to the writing, vocal and instrumental and production efforts of these two musicians, so in this case, it's probably more accurate to say that they've influenced each other.
When they took the stage, my eye was immediately drawn to the drums, and I was very pleasantly surprised ("ecstatically shocked" might be a better way of putting it) to see a very familiar figure. I probably would have known it was Chris McHugh even if I'd had my eyes closed. He's one of my favorite drummers; he's got such a distinctive BIG sound, and I really can't think of anyone who's more suited to play with this duo. What made it even more special was the fact that Gordon and Chris had played together in Whiteheart during what many people consider to be the best years of that band, and I hadn't seen them play on the same stage since back in the days of Whiteheart's Freedom tours. It was great to see and hear them play together again.
In a word, they ROCKED. They were just incredibly good, even better than I expected. The three of them have great chemistry; they work so well together. They too played a fairly short set, shorter than I would have liked, but they started intense and ended intense. I don't have an exact set list here either, but I'm pretty sure they started out with "I Wanna Know." They also did "In the Event," "Dogs of Peace," "Do You Know?" and "Pray to God." They went out on an extremely high note with an incredible rendition of "When I Believe It." After the vocal part of the song was over, they jammed for another 2 or 3 minutes and it just kept building in intensity. It was a great way for them to end an awesome set, which was for me the highlight of the concert. I really look forward to being able to see this band play live again.
It would have seemed almost anticlimactic for PFR to follow an act like this, but this was their last concert, and excitement was high. It was evident that the majority of this crowd was there just to see them. It seemed appropriate for them to play their last concert to their hometown crowd, many of whom had been following this band since their start when they'd play gigs at the camp where they worked and The New Union in Minneapolis.
They really sounded great. They had another guy (I'm not sure about his name, it's something like Greg Pope) playing with them on guitar, which was a welcome addition, especially since the new album is a little heavier. His contributions really helped to fill out their sound. The bass and guitars almost overpowered the vocals a little too much, but this was happening with all of the bands.
While the emotion seemed high with the crowd, the band seemed to be almost relaxed in comparison. This was a crowd that they were quite comfortable and familiar with, but more than that, their sense of peace about their decision to move on was almost palpable. There was no sense of sadness. They were just enjoying their last concert. It was very much like any other PFR concert that I'd been to. It was only when they closed out the encore with "Goldie's Last Day" that there seemed to be a little air of nostalgia, but that was probably more on the part of the fans than anyone else.
For the encore, the guys from Dogs of Peace came out and played with them and did vocals on all the songs. Jimmie Lee did a little keyboards, and Gordon was back there with him for awhile. Gordon did some vocals and acoustic guitar on "That Kind of Love" Chris just played miscellaneous percussion, or "stuff" as Joel called it. The three of them also helped out on "Face to Face" Joel had played keyboards with DoP during one or two songs earlier.
Also during the encore, Joel thanked the Minnesota fans for their support during the past several years, which was something he usually did at previous shows. It was a really nice way for them to end things I thought. Not a lot of extra hype or emotion, just PFR, the way they'd always been; and that's the way I'll remember them.
I did manage to get a set list for PFR's part of the concert from one of the guys that was running the lights.
Pour Me Out
Tried to Tell Her
Merry Go Round
Grace of God
Blind Man, Deaf Boy
Face to Face
Daddy Never Cried
Do You Want To Know Love
That Kind of Love
We Can Work it Out
Goldie's Last Day
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