Story and photos by Matt SchwenkeWhile the name Loudon Wainwright III sounds very serious, the singer/song writer's performance at Shank Hall was comical, light-hearted and relaxed. Getting the crowd laughing early, Wainwright started off the evening with a newly written song about airport security, which recounted an irksome removal of his shoes and confiscation of his spare set of toe-nail clippers before a recent flight. Then there was the tune "My Biggest Fan" which featured Wainwright switching through funny voices and awkward contortions in a much more physical sort of comedy. The song is on Wainwright's 2005 release and 20th studio recording Here Come the Choppers.
The funniest combination of both sides of Wainwright's humor, however, was in the witty "I Don't Think That Your Wife Likes Me"-- from the 1983 release Fame and Wealth. There were some serious moments in the evening as in "Daddy, Take A Nap," which Wainwright called "a mom and dad song." And, in the folk lines of "Hank and Fred," Wainwright payed partial tribute to the late great Hank Williams. Also representing a serious side to the evening, Wainwright tapped into the rustic sounds of Mose Allison's "Feel So Bad" and played some believable blues.
The funnier songs dominated the set-list though, and one couldn't help but laugh when Wainwright donned a ukulele and sang about how it's impossible to feel shitty when playing the instrument (side note: Eddie Veder did accomplish that feat of musicianship in the sad ukulele-driven tune "Soon Forget"). While the faces and sounds that Wainwright made were a simple form of comedy (not far from Weird Al Yankovich at times), the artist's ability to pull off comedy, quality song writing, and interesting guitar playing was impressive and ultimately won my respect. A true entertainer.
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