"The heat wave is following us," Jakob Dylan told the enthusiastic crowd at New York City's Blender Theatre. Although this was the second consecutive night that Jakob and his band, The Gold Mountain Rebels, performed in sweltering conditions it was his New York debut as Jakob Dylan, the solo artist. Backed by guitarist Audley Freed, drummer Fred Eltringham, and bassist George Reiff, Jakob Dylan is touring in support of his new album, Seeing Things, which, coincidentally, was released on the same day as this show, but you would have never guessed by the way jubilant fans reacted to the new material.
Although the songs on Seeing Things are mellow compared to Jakob's prior work with The Wallflowers, his lyrical prowess remains unscathed. "Smoke filled skies and bees in the well/Evil is Alive and Well," crooned a raspy Jakob Dylan as tiny flickering white lights from the stage's backdrop resembled stars sparking in an open sky. The ambiance of "Evil is Alive and Well," the opening track on Seeing Things, was further accentuated by the overhead red and blue tint that slowly crept in during Eltringham's hypnotic drumming.
"It's not just about the new songs, I like the old ones too," Jakob confessed before going into an acoustic rendition of "The Beautiful Side of Somewhere," from The Wallflowers' 2005 album, Rebel, Sweetheart. Alone on stage, Jakob treated fans to an intimate acoustic version of "Mourning Train" off The Wallflowers' third album, 2000's Breach before inviting the band back on stage to perform another new track, "Will It Grow."
The final part of the show mainly consisted of classics like a funky "Closer To You," from 2002's Red Letter Days, audience requested "Three Marlenas," off 1996's Bringing Down The Horse, the album that earned Jakob two grammy awards in 1997, and the hidden track on Red Letter Days, "Empire In My Mind."
Jakob appeared comfortable on stage despite some missed queues, suffocating heat, and the two drunk chicks in front who could not stop screaming at him between songs. There were some moments when Jakob's eyes exuded a piercing intensity while at other times he could be seen laughing out loud [no pun intended]. But despite the evening's emotional fluctuations Jakob, alongside The Gold Mountain Rebels, rocked the Blender Theatre, and that is how his solo debut in New York City will be remembered.