Round [a]Buffalo Tom[/a]’s house, they haven’t rearranged the furniture since 1990. They’re still throwing the same jangly, affable guitar-rock shapes, still making like a bunch of college boys on summer holiday, still rocking in the free world – oblivious that the world has changed.
Since their visit to these shores is not to promote a new record, but to support their ‘Going Underground’ slot on the ‘Fire & Skill’ Jam tribute LP, tonight’s set is a ‘greatest hits’ run-through, which only adds to the overwhelming feeling of anachronism. Bill Janovitz and Chris Colbourn trade vocals, make old jokes and look mildly surprised to have so many ardent fans after all these years. They bash out the fun but numbly innocuous ‘Sodajerk’, ‘Darl’ and ‘Velvet Roof’ – all with the kind of sandpaper melodies that have spawned a million rubbish American ‘alternative’ bands – and a few from latest album ‘Smitten’, which sound like everything else.
The ghostly ‘Taillights Fade’, yearning ‘Frozen Lake’ and sweetly simple ‘Kitchen Door’ prove that they are at least deserving of nostalgic affection, and there’s certainly no denying their knack for the nifty hook. But [a]Buffalo Tom[/a]’s best moments have always been when they sound more like The Replacements or Dinosaur Jr than themselves. And although they’ve always been good – sometimes even great – they’re never going to burn a hole through your heart.
Time marches on, and [a]Buffalo Tom[/a] feel no need to follow. Dust has begun to gather, but it still looks like home.