An ancient, hand-lettered sign hangs behind the bandstand at this old hotel, advertising rooms for $1.50 with a guarantee that they are “fireproof.” Good thing, or Lost Leaders might have burned the place down. From the first notes of “Horizontal Man,” the first track on their new self-titled album, they blazed. Byron Isaacs, who prowled the small stage wielding his bass like a lethal weapon, mirrored the song’s coiled intensity.
Isaacs and Peter Cole, the mainstays of the band, have been writing and playing music together for more than a decade, and their lasting association shows in their exquisite harmonies and wide groove. On this occasion, their musical symbiosis was complemented by Lee Falco, the hot young drummer who locked in perfectly with Isaacs’ glorious bass lines, contributing a third voice on “No One Knows” and Neil Young’s “New Mama.” Among the many other tasty moments were Cole’s stunning guitar solo on “Miracle Mile,” Isaacs’ infectious bass on “Keeping Busy Feeling Fine,” and every last note of “I’m Gonna Win,” which has been getting good radio play since the record’s release.
Playing briefly solely as a duo, Isaacs and Cole acknowledged their influences by covering Tom Petty’s “Climb That Hill” (they also played Beck’s “Nobody’s Fault But My Own”). Before playing “The Line The Lie,” Isaacs, a longtime member of the Levon Helm Band, noted that he and Cole played it in Helm’s barn when they opened the Midnight Ramble many years ago. “The spirit of the record starts with this song in that barn,” he said.
– Kay Cordtz