LIVE: Eric Andersen @ The Strand of Hudson Falls, 05/29/2022

Like a spider web in a wind storm, Eric Andersen blew into the Strand Theater: delicate but dangerous and not as vulnerable as one might expect from an artist in his late 70s facing a small audience with only 21 advance sales.  

Nineteen minutes before showtime, he walked through the front door of the Hudson Falls Theatre like the original Invisible Man dressed all in black from his thin-brimmed hat to his “Thirsty Boots” and down jacket in 81-degree heat, his eyes threatening to burn through his dark glasses. 

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He didn’t perform “Thirsty Boots,” his best-known song, or “Violets’ of Dawn,” the two songs that threatened Dylan’s throne in 1965 at coffee houses in Harvard Square and Greenwich Village. And in fact, he debuted a brand-new song on the nine-foot Steinway Grand, “Sinking Deeper and Deeper,” that he plans to record next week. 

Playing an acoustic guitar, Andersen was accompanied by Steve Addabbo who produced several of the Bob Dylan bootleg recordings. With Eric since 1988, Addabbo gave the veteran songwriter lots of room, playing electric light – light as indelicate, not the bulb – with accents and underlining. That said, Addabbo’s switchblade slash on “You Can’t Relive The Past,” the title cut of Andersen’s 2000 album co-written by Lou Reed, demonstrated a Robert Plant intensity that’s more Led Zeppelin than Alison Krauss. 

Andersen opened his two-hour, two-set concert by saying he’d never been to this Adirondack foothills town before, that it could have been built by Edward Hopper, whose “Nighthawks” painting of people seen eating in a diner late at night is one of America’s most recognizable paintings. Then, he launched into a song with the lyrics “I’ll write a letter on a dusty boxcar wall.” 

He reminisced about Rick Danko driving him over the Rhinebeck Bridge at the widest point on the Hudson that inspired him to write “Blues River.”  “Rain Falls Down in Amsterdam” was written in 1990 but portends the danger the world is in today. Stark in its dark imagery, his delivery of the song in front of about 40 people was way more powerful than the 1995 version on The Essential Eric Andersen album with its lyric: “The cages have been broken/and the beasts are on the prowl.” 

Calling himself the most accomplished Hobart College dropout, he recounted being expelled from the college for redecorating the college President’s lawn on his motorcycle only to be invited back to receive an honorary doctorate. 

Addabbo opened the second set with an original “Ghosts Upon The Road” leading into Andersen’s “River Town” which he said was inspired by songwriter Jimmy Webb of “Wichita Lineman” fame. 

Andersen jokingly proclaimed he doesn’t allow anyone under 69 into his shows. And “Close The Door Lightly When You Go” could well be the admonition to an audience that offered no standing ovation – which he more than deserved – and he left them amid just more than a polite response after two sumptuous sets. 

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