As the Beatles figured out after making Sgt. Pepper, there is sometimes a battle between being great in the studio and reproducing a record note-for-note on stage. Wiard is smart enough not to make that attempt when playing a gig; he focuses on the cool underlying songs instead. When I caught the band last spring at Crazy Wisdom, where he was experimenting with bringing his five-piece band into an acoustic setting, the gamble paid off wonderfully. With the amps turned down low, so the double latte sippers wouldn't be too blown away by the volume, Wiard presented stripped-down versions of his tunes in a more laid-back fashion.
When you take away the tape loops, the overdubs, the wall-of-sound magic Wiard pulls off in the record-making setting, you can hear what a truly amazing songwriter he is. Tunes like the guitar rocker "Since You've Gone Away" and the beautifully sweet Paul McCartney-like ballad "Caroline" are indications of Wiard's immense potential.
Brandon Wiard opens for Katherine Schell at the Michigan Theater on Sunday, December 11.
[Review published December 2005]