Wreckless Eric and company amaze
By SHAWN TELFORD - SPECIAL TO THE P-I
When not busy with his band Young Fresh Fellows or his other band R.E.M. or his other band Tuatara, Scott McCaughey keeps himself busy with his side project, The Minus 5.
For each of its seven albums, he has recruited an entourage of rock elites, including most recently Jeff Tweedy, Colin Meloy, Sean Nelson, Ken Stringfellow, Kelly Hogan, Glen Kotche, John Wesley Harding and on and on and on.
Basically, those who cannot get enough of making music have found their way into the studio to try to keep up with the restless McCaughey (pronounced "McCoy").
Then there's the touring. Again, McCaughey keeps it real by recruiting rock veterans from his private cabal, most often Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Bill Rieflin (Ministry, KMFDM) and John Ramberg (Model Rockets).
Still, one artist had eluded the tireless McCaughey: Eric Goulden, aka "Wreckless Eric." Naturally, when he learned that Eric would be nearby in Canada, McCoughey did everything he could to get Wreckless to Seattle.
The resulting night Tuesday at the Tractor proved to be an amazing and yet completely unassuming moment in music history.
Tripwire, a band not short of veterans itself, started the evening with a set of songs from its forthcoming album due in the fall.
The Minus 5's brand of hard-core Americana got many heads bobbing and more toes tapping as it ripped through "My Life as a Creep" and "Out There on the Maroon" from its 2006 eponymous release.
The 5 were not shy with covers as they jammed through "Mary Lou," The Remains' "Don't Look Back" and a gorgeous garage-rock tribute to the Sonics with "Strychnine."
Wreckless Eric then eased into his set with stories that wandered into "Joe Meek," "The Final Taxi" and his first big hit, "Reconnez Cherie." He breezed between songs and stories, letting the ebb and flow of punk fervor move him before swapping the acoustic for a broken-down electric that he claimed befitted this "groovy rock kind of town." Most of all, it lent a sharper edge to "Swimming Against the Tide of Reason" and "Continuity Girl" from his 2004 release "Bungalow Hi."
Taking another turn, Eric momentarily stopped his folk-punk set to read a passage from his book, "A Dysfunctional Success."
Thus far, the evening was all teasing and foreplay, setting the stage, as it were, for the piece de resistance: Wreckless and McCaughey and their minions (Peter Buck, I just called you a minion) romping through the Brit's 30-year catalog, including "Haunted House," "Walking on the Surface of the Moon," "The Whole Wide World" and "Someone Must've Nailed Us Together."
Watching the musicians hard at work, playing, listening, smiling, glowing, I realized that it's not always for us, the consumers of their art, sometimes, it's the making that is the reward.