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Jeff Bridges and The Abiders burn up the Warehouse Live

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Jeff Bridges and The Abiders.

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About 10 minutes into his powerful two-hour set at Houston’s Warehouse Live, the enthralled masses began to genuinely understand just how compelling Jeff Bridges' Oscar-winning performance was as Otis “Bad” Blake in 2009’s “Crazy Heart.” Because it became crystal clear that the brilliantly versatile Bridges was really just a gifted musician playing the part of a gifted actor playing the part of a gifted musician. The talented performer rode into town for the April 12 show with his crack backing band The AbidersChris Pelonis (lead guitar/vocals), Bill Flores (pedal steel/accordion), Tom Lackner (drums) and Randy Tico (bass) – to lay down a little of this, tear up a lot of that and do just about anything other than well, just abide. As evidenced by Saturday’s gloriously diverse setlist, The Abiders’ “little of this and lot of that” included everything from country to Americana to rock and roll with some jazz and blues thrown in for good measure.

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The decorated “part-time thespian” kicked off the aural celebration with a self-professed “science fiction tune” that someone could have written for his Oscar-nominated turn as an alien in “Starman,” the unyielding “Thousand Year Plan.” The willing concertgoers unanimously screamed their unrelenting approval as Bridges and Pelonis followed it up with the astral harmonies of “What A Little Bit Of Love Can Do.” The multi-talented Bridges proved to be a skillful vocal frontman throughout the 19-song set. But led by Pelonis’ effortless fretwork on ruthless crowd-pleaser “She Lay Her Whip Down” and funked-up blues cut “Slow Boat,” his talented bandmates unfailingly thrilled the masses with their respective musical brilliance. Flores more than held his own with exceptional slide-guitar work on a swampy “What Happens” and doleful pedal steel on “Maybe I Missed The Point,” the latter song highlighted by remarkable acapella harmonies. And with Pelonis’ chugging harmonica highlights on the Johnny Cash-tinged “Somebody Else” and Flores’ bouncy accordion effort on the zydeco-flavored “I Don’t Know,” the two musicians “loudly” established themselves as Bridges’ worthy multitalented rivals.

While Bridges’ superb setlist was chockfull of musical gems, there was plenty of lyrical insight for those that actually paid attention to the discerning words – like these pearls from one of the inspired show’s highlights, Tom Waits’ mournful “Never Let Go.” “Well, Peter denied and Judas betrayed / I'll bail with the roll of the drum / And the wind will tell the turn from the wheel / And the watchman is making his rounds / Well, you'll leave me hanging by the skin of my teeth / I've only got one leg to stand / You can send me to hell / But I'll never let go of your hand.” And while we’re on the subject of highlights, the band’s animated cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” was a revelation – with Bridges dedicating the rocker to the master abider himself, “The Dude.” Bridges led his musical charges through a frenetic rendition of The Byrds’ classic “So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star,” declaring that his friend and producer T-Bone Burnett must have listened to songs of its ilk as an impressionable young songwriter. Bridges’ showed the Warehouse crowd that he knows a thing or two about being a rock ‘n’ roll star. At one point in the luminous set, the “Starman” admitted that he “really likes Texas a lot.” And from the sounds of the crowd’s euphoric response, Texas must like him a lot as well.

Here's the complete setlist:

“Thousand Year Plan”
“What A Little Bit Of Love Can Do”
“Somebody Else”
“Exception To The Rule”
“I Don’t Know”
“She Lay Her Whip Down”
“Van Gogh”
“Slow Boat”
“What Happens”
“Never Let Go”
“Blue Car”
“Fallin’ & Flyin’”
“The Quest”
“Lookin’ Out My Back Door”
“Maybe I Missed The Point”
“The Weary Kind”
“So You Want To Be Rock ‘N’ Roll Star”
“Man In Me”

Encore

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