Written byNick Hopton, Photographed by Liv Foltiny
There is nothing like the holidays. A time for friends, family and loved ones gather and enjoy the company that sometimes can be hard to obtain as the years go on. Life has a funny way of spreading those that are the closest, the farthest apart in our lives, but there’s always that special time of the year that brings us back together.
On a cold, rainy December night (12/22/22), the audience of the Ardmore Music Hall, just outside of Philadelphia, was treated to the reunion of a friendship that has gone down in this fair city’s lore.
Nick Perri and Walt Lafty, local legends of the area from their time together in Silvertide, have embarked on a short run of shows to share the magic they created two decades ago. This was different, though. They would not appear as a band together but as individual artists with each respective catalog to dive into, showing off the range and talent each had procured over the years.
Opening the night’s festivities was another local legend, John Faye. Somehow, entering his fourth decade of performing, he manages to keep the original fire burning bright on the stage. Youth has never left him, and neither has his desire to put on one hell of a show, even if it’s solely him in the spotlight.
A set of folky, down-to-earth rock tunes had the crowd drawn in from the start. By the end of the set, he had the entire crowd singing along with him; smiles and claps abound.
It might have been a dual headline show, but someone has to go first. Walt Lafty had that honor on this evening. From Silvertide albums past, one might expect him to come out with blistering vocals built for a sold-out arena (he’s been there, done that). But this was not the case at this show. He stepped on stage looking like a modern-day Bob Dylan, just him and his guitar. What came next was an emotional 9-song set spanning years of his life after the band. “The Sky” opened the set with a beautiful dive into his craftsmanship, blending country, folk, and rock into a landscape painting. Then, the laughs came, and they would not let up. Walt made it a point to keep the audience entertained the entire time, even between his songs. Jokes plenty, he made his way into “The Pipe Song,” which features, hands down, the greatest use of the word “fuck” I have ever heard in a song. He continued through with “Way Back Home,” “Letting Go,” and “Touch,” all fantastic in their own right. The highlight was “Suicide Hill,” a trip down memory lane, which perfectly encompassed what this show and night were all about. A look back to the glory days when you had no care in the world; you were just there to enjoy the ride. “Beautiful Mistake,” “I Used To Call You A Friend,” and “Joseph A. Fields closed out his set, but the night was far from over.
After two years on the road supporting his last album, “Sun Via,” Nick Perri returned to the stage he has frequented many times over this run to give it a proper send-off.
Opening with blistering renditions of “Let You Know,” “Excess,” and “I Want You,” the energy could be felt immediately throughout the entire venue and did not let up. His ability to rework these songs into a solo cosmic whirlwind is a sight to be seen on its own, as the pieces are usually performed with a full band. But stripped down to their core, they are just as powerful on his own as they are with The Underground Thieves. He treated us to a new song, “The Pines,” off his upcoming yet unannounced album. It shows a sense of a more subdued yet confident songwriter, stripped of the effects so prevalent in the previous outing. A more well-rounded and devised songwriter.
But then, the real treat of the night came. Walt Lafty joins Nick on the stage for a mini Silvertide reunion. Performing “Devil’s Daughter,” “Blue Jeans,” and “To See Where I Hide,” the duo revives the wonders of the early 2000s in a short yet satisfying set. Gone is the laid-back feeling of Walt’s set. He instead reverts to those old, glorious frontman methods of entertainment by rocking the stage like a fucking animal. Constant singalongs with the crowd, many of whom grew up with the songs they created together. Lafty makes his way to the back of the crowd, perched up on a railing, eye to eye with Perri. The two together create a magic that very few ever can achieve, split only by the crowd draped in wonder beneath them. Wailing back and forth in a call and response of guitar solos and vocal melodies, they show the true meaning of rock and roll, unity.
As Perri wraps up the end of the night with a beautiful cover of “My My, Hey Hey” by the legendary Neil Young and a fitting closer in “Feeling Good,” the crowd is left satisfied, yet yearning for more. It’s not often we are treated to a night like this—a reunion of those friends and family that stuck by through thick and thin.
One can hope that we will be treated to another evening such as this soon, and hopefully, it doesn’t take the holidays to bring us all together again.
“I know it’s only rock and roll, but I like it.”
Connect with Nick Perri
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