Todd Snider: Live Last Night

Live Last Night

The Birchmere's "quiet please" policy was rendered completely and totally irrelevant the second Todd Snider opened the floor up to requests Friday night. At that moment, the rabid fans -- and that would be most of them -- of the impossibly charismatic, barefoot, 42-year-old folkie bombarded him with titles from his 20-year catalogue. But it's not like it was a hushed room before that. After all, it would take great restraint to stifle laughter when Snider plays his often-hilarious ditties. For Snider, a rhyme almost always doubles as a punchline, and it's likely to be funnier than one you'd hear at the local stand-up club.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

With just an acoustic guitar, harmonica and charm to spare, Snider played 20 songs that were as wordy as they were witty. He comes off as a modern-day protest singer, speaking out against the usual litany of right-wing talking points, but also protesting the sullen manner in which past troubadours went about their work.

If the humor was forced, Snider's shtick would grow old quickly; but like kindred spirits Robbie Fulks and Jonathan Richman, he knows how to tug at heartstrings in addition to tickling the funny bone.

A handful of Snider's songs were ripped from yesterday's headlines, an old folk trick. But the relatively straight-laced, sentimental "D.B. Cooper," about the supposed-hijacker of a 1971 flight, was balanced out by "When Dock Ellis of the Pittsburgh Pirates Threw a No-Hitter on LSD." Many of the songs were littered with cursing and drug references, but his infectious personality made it all seem positively innocuous.

His guitar playing was mostly of the gentle, rocking-chair-on-the-front-porch variety -- catchy enough, simple and unobtrusive, never getting in the way of his words.

The centerpiece of the set featured no guitar at all; it was an extended, side-splitting monologue about Snider's high school years and how he transitioned from a football-playing jock to a pot-smoking burnout. That led into one of his trademark songs, "Conservative Christian, Right Wing, Republican, Straight, White, American Males" in which he announces himself as the opposite: a "tree-huggin', love-makin', pro-choicin', gay weddin', Widespread-diggin' hippie." Might want to throw highly entertainin' in there for good measure.

--DAVID MALITZ

By David Malitz |  June 7, 2009; 3:38 PM ET Live Last Night
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