Folk-rock guitarist Steve Gunn was back in New York City on Friday night with a sold-out show in front of his hometown fans at Bowery Ballroom. The show on Friday was just the second performance of his 2019 winter tour in promotion of his brand new studio album, The Unseen In Between. Gunn had played a trio of more-intimate shows at Brooklyn’s Union Pool back in the fall to work out some of his new material, and spent nearly the entire 11-song set on Friday continuing to explore and familiarize his fans with the songs from The Unseen In Between in wonderful fashion.
“This is the third show playing these tunes, we’re working it out,” and honest Gunn told the sold-out venue in regards to some of the new songs which made up the majority of his set. Gunn has amassed an entire songbook of brilliant original material over the last decade, but spent much of Friday focusing on the new material. In typical Gunn fashion, the guitarist calmly arrived on the stage in a casual, blue-collar look to start the show with “Wildwood”, a song from his 2014 Way Out Weather LP. Next came “Vagabond“, one of the lively pre-release singles from The Unseen, followed by two other new tunes in “Chance” and “Lightning Field”. It took Gunn three songs into the set to finally step onto his overdrive pedal, much to the delight of his jam fans in the room on Friday.
Gunn and his co-guitarist for the evening were locked in sync by the time they got to “Lightning Field”, weaving in and around one another with their picking-styled riff lines. Gunn gave fans in attendance a treat by welcoming longtime Bob Dylan bassist, Tony Garnier, to the stage to join him on stand-up bass beginning with “New Moon” and “Luciano”. The full band left the stage during “Stonehurst Cowboy“, and Gunn and Garnier spent the next few minutes playing a duet version of the semi-biographical song about Gunn’s late father.
One of the key elements of Gunn’s style of performing and recording which players will surely appreciate, is his emphasis on putting tone over anything else. Gunn even kept his metal fingerpicks on while playing some of the softer tunes on acoustic guitar throughout the show in hopes of giving the timbre of his instruments a sharp and firm personality with each strum.
The first real jam of the night came towards the end of his set during “New Familiar” and “Paranoid”, which featured Gunn turning those clean tones of his into a mesmerizing dust storm of distortion and fuzz. The show came to a fantastic end with “Morning Is Mended” and the fan-favorite folk ballad, “Way Out Weather”.
Gunn’s winter tour continues on Saturday with a show at Union Transfer in Philadelphia. He’ll continue to tour in promotion of the new album throughout the winter and into the spring months. Fans can head over to his website for ticket and tour info. Fans who couldn’t make it to Friday’s show can also check out the gallery below for photos from the event taken by Tom Shackleford.
Setlist: Steve Gunn | Bowery Ballroom | New York, NY | 2/1/2019
Set: Wildwood, Vagabond, Chance, Lightning Field, New Moon*, Luciano*, Stonehurst Cowboy*, New Familiar, Paranoid
Encore: Morning Is Mended, Way Out Weather
*w/ Tony Garnier