95-05-17 Toad's Place
New Haven, Connecticut, America
Soul Coughing supported.

[i]Review from the Hartford Courant:[/i]

''Jeff Buckley's wide vocal range offers credible but constrained show''
by [i]Joseph Rocha[/i]
Courant Correspondent

It would have been nice for Jeff Buckley, who gained some acclaim this spring, to have concluded his solo tour on a promising note.

But that wasn't the case for Rolling Stone magazine's 1995 Best New Male Singer, who performed Wednesday at Toad's Place in New Haven.

In front of about 375 people, Buckley performed credibly. But the latest talent to emerge from New York's underground scene never seemed to warm up to the small, intrigued but mostly quiet crowd. Moreover, Buckley never appeared to break free of a scripted show.

Buckley, the son of cult folksinger Tim Buckley, has been on the road before and since the release of his debut, "Grace". The release, which sold about 300,000 copies worldwide, featured the same backing core that Busckley brought on tour: Mick Grondahl on bass, Matt Johnson on drums, and Michael Tighe on backing guitar.

The band built the songs slowly. Buckley started most with a subterranean whisper, raised his tenor to a gruff, earthy shout and then took it to an otherworldly falsetto.

Buckley's razor-edged guitar and choirboy voice, which can move naturally from angelic purity to twisted demonic intensity, provided curiousity for the evening, although his vocalizations may have bordered on so much soundmaking.

After a gauzy, dream-like vocal and guitar invocation, Buckley and the band slid into the compelling "Mojo Pin," a melodic, moody ode of burning mysticism that ebbed and flowed until bursting into an almost trademark swagger that critics have called Led Zeppelinesque.

The comparisons may be in part fostered by heavy record-company backing. Columbia has put Buckley and his bandmates on the road with a support crew of roadies, soundmen and management. The corporation is looking out for its investment.

Buckley tore through a thrashing of "Eternal Life" with a spit and adrenaline spiked assault. Then, he put the brakes on for the yearning, heart-wrenching "Lover."

Clearly, Buckley showed he's learned a thing or two in his non-stop touring and clubbing about performing and pacing. Maybe he needs to break free of the corporate reins that prevent him and his band from developing and taking more artistic risks.

The themes of grace, love, faith and redemption all were apparent during his show. Whether it was the seductive "So Real." the scorching "Grace" or the incandescent "Last Goodbye," Buckley whipped through the music, sometimes like a breeze, sometimes like a hurricane.

But at almost two hours for the 13-song set, the material and the show could have been tightened, especially since he reprised his cover of leonard Cohen's "Hallehujah" during an encore.

Maybe in time, the 28-year old will achieve the potential he displays and the accolades he's attracted.

Buckley, after his 18-show, four week tour, will open for Juliani Hatfield on her tour starting today in Providence. The tour isn't slated to return to Connecticut. it will play Boston's Avalon Ballroom may 29th and 30th and New York's Roseland on June 2nd.