Taking the stage with the rollicking “Satan Pulls the Strings,” then shifting into the quiet break-up “Morning Song,” The Avett Brothers kicked off the 2019 Pinewood Bowl season in impressively beautiful fashion, again verifying they are America’s best roots music band.
Shifting through styles — old-timey stomp, to country balladry, a yodel about divorce and rock ‘n’ roll, the North Carolina band entranced and had the capacity crowd of 4,700 clapping and singing along.
A back-to-back with a no-stop, four-song string midway through the show perhaps best illustrates the Avett’s magic. Following the beautiful story song “Famous Flower of Manhattan,” the band hit the rowdy “Distraction #74,” then the sweet ballad “Go to Sleep."
That was followed by “Left on Laura, Left on Lisa,” which saw Scott Avett put down his banjo to move to piano and sing “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise,” drawing a cheer with the lyric, “Your life doesn’t change with the man that’s elected.”
That’s a song from 2016’s “True Sadness.” But it wasn’t the night’s freshest song — that belonged to a hushed new number that was performed sans title.
It however fit perfectly into the Avett oeuvre — acoustic-rooted, beautifully played by the six-person band and filled with harmonies, especially those from primary vocalist Scott and his guitarist brother Seth.
Thanks to Friday afternoon’s gusty south winds there was no video screen or fancy backdrop hanging on the stage. The pine trees behind the stage, lit with blue after dark, however were the perfect backdrop for the band and its gorgeous songs. Sprinkles were also off an on throughout the show.
Friday’s performance hit the two-hour mark with a disco-ball driven conclusion that set up an encore expected to last a half an hour.
With 12 songs in the book in the first hour, that meant an evening with the Avetts comprised at least 25 songs — some favorites, some deep cuts, all marvelous.