I Went With Some Friends to See Benji Hughes…

…it was the greatest show I ever saw.

I’ve been dying to see Benji Hughes live since discovering him back in October via an article in The Believer magazine that sat unread on our coffee table for several weeks. By the time I got around to reading it and listening to his album I learned we had just missed a show he did in LA days prior. A few months later we learned of another LA show 3 days after it happened. My wife was actually toying with flying to North Carolina for my birthday to see him play, but that surprise got nixed when I insisted on watching the LOST finale in the comfort of our own home. But now the wait is over, with Benji doing a 4 show residency at Largo throughout July!

Week 1 was nothing like I expected and more than I could have hoped for. The dude is just plain hilarious up there on stage with his big red cape, long hair and sunglasses. He randomly wanders off in between songs (to get “water”), one time sneaking back on stage against the rear red curtain while “camouflaging” himself with the cape. Goofy, but in a good way and highly entertaining.

In some regards it felt like we were watching a rehearsal as the band improvised the setlist — sometimes making song choices that Benji disagreed with but still nailed. (I’m not sure if this was part of the schtick or a real event, but later in the show it was revealed that Benji had accidentally ripped off the bottom half of the setlist while searching for a piece of note paper shortly before taking the stage.)

Jackson Browne was the special guest who jammed with him in the second half. They did a couple of Zevon covers, Benji’s “All You’ve Got to Do Is Fall In Love” (where Benji had to correct Jackson’s melody on the chorus), and one song by guitarist and former Muscadine partner in crime Jonathan Wilson.

Rough, out of order and likely incomplete setlist from memory:

Higher Than Balls
Even If
How Many Birds?
Country Love
Broadway (partial scat cover of the George Benson song)
Love Is A Razor
Turkeys with Guitars
Waiting For An Invitation
So Much Better
Don’t Forget to Write Me When You’re Famous
Oysters (Solo Piano)
Mohammed’s Radio (Warren Zevon cover w/ Jackson Browne)
Play It All Night Long (Warren Zevon w/ Jackson Browne)
All You’ve Got To Do Is Fall In Love (w/ Jackson Browne)
Solo Jackson Browne Song
Solo Jonathan Wilson Song
Girl In The Tower

My only minor gripe is this: I tend to go into concerts with a mental checklist of songs I hope an artist plays, and then judge the show on how much of my wishlist was covered.  In this case, only the encore song was on my pre-show list. But it was still awesome regardless. Can’t wait for next week!

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