X & James Intveld 7.20.23
Fort Collins, CO
Words & Photos by Mike Sherry Photo
X has been thrilling audiences across this planet for almost five decades and counting. Last Thursday Fort Collins got its turn and packed into Washington's. So choice to see this fledgling venue attracting the legends from L.A.
“All the Way from Memphis,” its rollicking beat demonstrating why X invited James on tour. After mentioning how X bassist John Doe encouraged some setlist tweaking from James' lengthy catalog, John was welcomed onstage to sing the Hank Snow classic “Fool Such as I.”
X wasted no time elevating the pulse, opening with the rocker “Water and Wine” from 2020's Alphabetland. A non-stop set of nearly two dozen career-spanning songs commenced, peppered with a few new tunes that are as yet unrecorded. The crowd couldn't have been more attentive and appreciative soaking in punk, rockabilly and nostalgic ballads. Speaking of, “Come Back to Me” sounded especially sweet! It's always a favorite spotlight for drummer DJ Bonebrake to work the vibraphone while guitarist, Billy Zoom, melts hearts with a sax serenade.
Peeling the pick from his forehead, Billy resumed his seemingly effortless tsunami of guitar work, from the thrashing classic “Los Angeles” to the surf-twang of chestnut “Dancing with Tears in My Eyes.” While maybe not as animated as Doe these days, we still get those grinning flashes with those choice Gretsch tones. Not to overstate how grateful Fort Collins was to earn a date on X's tour following Denver just 55 miles south, I saw so many happy reactions going through the stuffed dance floor – some fans' first opportunity seeing them live. (Was that a little moshing there?)
“Smoke and Fiction” hit especially well, iconic X all the way. Likewise for “Free” and “Alphabetland” from the 2020 album, the crowd stayed enthralled with new and classic numbers. Exene Cervenka and Doe trade lead vocal duties, complimenting so well during duets. “I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts” mid-show was just one of many spotlights for Exene's marvelous charisma.
X shows are like boarding a roller coaster: you know it has a conclusion, but once aboard the ride is a time warp. There's only a beat to catch your breath between songs, a manic memory-drenching, then suddenly they're saying goodnight. The audience begs them back and after gifting still another debut “The Way it Is,” the staple "Soul Kitchen" does the rest.
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