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  JACK LOGAN w/ The Possibilities  
  40 Watt  
  Athens, GA  
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If you've read many of my reviews, you can tell I'm a big sucker for slightly retro-sounding music. That may be some of the basis for my liking of The Possibilities. Although I've never heard their recordings, in concert, this band always has a Merseybeat feel that just appeals to me. Anyway, this fondness led me to travel down to Athens to see The Possibilities open for Jack Logan on a Saturday night. I knew it was going to be an odd show. Each act planned to play two alternating sets over the course of the evening. Furthermore, The Possibilities are Jack Logan's backing band, so they would be on stage more or less for the entire show.

When The Possibilities took the stage a little after 11, they launched into a set pretty much like I would expect -- lots of jangly happy songs which recall early-60s Britpop. Nothing particularly earth-shattering, but very solid and fun, filled with catchy, hummable melodies. Soundwise, everything seemed tight (although as the evening progressed guitarist Kevin Lane's voice seemed to give out a bit). I had started off the evening sitting down, but within minutes I was standing up so I could bounce and move to the music. And I was really disappointed when they wrapped up after some 45 minutes and turned over the stage to Jack Logan.

But I shouldn't have been.

Now, I've heard of Jack Logan (and I've even heard some of his recordings). And I tend to pigeonhole him into the lo-fi genre of Bill Callahan or Stephin Merritt. Normally, I find that sort of music entertaining and diverting, but I don't think I would have on this particular evening. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised when Jack Logan took the stage, backed by the opening band as well as his longtime collaborator Kelly Keneipp, and began to play this slightly off-kilter, somewhat dark rock music. In some ways, it reminded me of Myssouri without the honky-tonk Western feel…or perhaps it's more similar to something off Palace Records (but without all the Appalachian overtones).

And as the set progressed, I became more and more impressed by this intriguing mix of musical styles and sounds. For instance, one song might have a straight-up rock melody, but then the next would come across as a Gospel tune that would sound perfectly at home in some rural Southern church. Normally when a band or musician varies so widely in their music, the overall effect is one of some split personality. But in this case, everything seemed to flow well.

The only complaint I had is that, with the backing of The Possibilities, it was somewhat inevitable that at times, I would stand there and think, "Haven't I heard this already this evening?" But the songs themselves were so compelling that I quickly forgot the comparisons and lost myself in the music. As the last notes faded at the end of his first set, I was firmly convinced that Jack Logan reminds me most of Billy Bragg. His expressive voice easily addresses a wide range of topics, while still making everything seem personal and significant. It was different than I had expected, and definitely better.

After another small break, The Possibilities returned to the stage to play a short second set. It was similar to the first set they played, although filled with different songs. While they played, I was able to more clearly examine the structure of the band's music. Previously, I would have called them Merseybeat-influenced jangle pop and left it at that. This time, however, you could hear how they would take elements from other styles and bands and then modify it. It was neat to be able to pick out the genesis of some hook and then hear how The Possibilities made it their own. To top it off, they made it sound so effortless, without any histrionics or display to distract me from the music.

Similarly, when Jack Logan returned to the stage for his second set (this time without Kelly Keneipp, but still with The Possibilities backing him), it was much the same as his first set. Again, the songs covered a variety of topics and styles; again, I became so involved in the show that I couldn't focus on anything except the music. And I was thrilled when the show finished with a rousing cover of Jumpin' Jack Flash. Honestly, I don't think I've ever heard a band (except perhaps for Social Distortion) that could pull off a Rolling Stones cover . However, the combo of Jack Logan and The Possibilities pulled it off and left the crowd wanting more.

If that's not the way a rock show should be, I'm not sure what is.

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