Rhett Miller @ Troubadour, 2/08/08

Any solo performer, regardless of genre or stature, should want to emulate Rhett Miller. His stage presence at the Troubadour on Friday night: complete and total entertainment. Mr. Miller is a master of the perfect combination of between-song-banter (he managed to do it better with himself/the audience than any group I’ve seen) and quick transitions into the next song, so that at no point were you hoping he would either take a break and talk to the audience or shut the hell up and just play his songs—that is, when he spoke it was poetry (and clever to boot), and when he continue to rock his worn acoustic guitar he was on fire.

He informed us that the Old 97’s have just completed a new record, which he’s very pleased with, and he played a few songs from it – all of which were phenomenal. Think Spanish influence and folk-inspiration funneled into pure rock – a delicious combination. His lyrics are intoxicating, even in the cheesier songs like “Question” (but to combat such cheese, he did the third verse and chorus entirely in French. All the girls were already swooning the second he started the tune, but by this time even the guys were melting a bit, your humble reviewer included).

My favorite part about this show was his on-stage antics. He carried himself with such poise and grace yet kept a solid down-and-dirty approach so as to make his songs about drinking himself to sleep more apropos. He moved just exactly right, and was basically the embodiment of everything a musician should be. If you’ve never seen Miller or the Old 97’s, you very much should (especially if a new Old 97’s record is coming out soon, see you there), if for nothing else than to experience Miller’s driving windmill strum of his guitar where his forearm seems to be a kind of pinwheel connected at the elbow. Its quite a sight, to be sure.

My congratulations, Mr. Miller, your cult following has gained a new member. Hope to see you back in the City of Angels again soon.