April 6, 2008
Glen Phillips, the lead singer of Toad The Wet Sprocket, always seems to engage a fervent following with his unusual brand of socio political pop driven compositions. A self admitted "nerd," Phillips, on the other hand, carried with him a strong set of musical standards to illuminate and enlighten the dedicated on the floor of Newport, Kentucky’s Southgate House on April 6.
Borrowing from his recent EP, Secrets of the New Explorers, Phillips’ strong use of imagery pervaded the gripping, humor laden "Solar Flare." "Goodbye teeth, and goodbye hair, you were taken by the solar flare," Phillips sang in his distinctive upper octave range. Reversing back towards his 2006 Mr. Lemons disc, Phillips brought fresh ears and energy to his cover of Huey Lewis’ "I Want a New Drug" that had many in the audience tapping their feet and singing along.
But, most came to hear a Toad song or two, and Phillips broke out "Walk on the Ocean" to great fanfare and commotion in the Southgate’s upper balcony. Closing the set with "Everything But You" from Mr. Lemons brought well-earned insight into the underrated recording. And, of course, Phillips’ hardcore legion was not going to let him go without one more Toad number. He obliged them by breaking out the dainty and humming radio friendly hit, "All I Want," which had the entire Southgate House singing the lyrics back towards the stage as if they were in an Irish pub.
There lies the attraction of Glen Phillips. He is an artist with smart material that touches the inner nerve of the populace while offering them the illusion of freedom in letting go to join in with the crowd.