posted on April 15, 2013 15:07
A night swelling with emotion is the best way I can describe Justin Furstenfeld's 'Open Book' tour that rolled into the intimate confines of The Old Rock House on Sunday night. The ever-honest and forthright Blue October front man brought his solo acoustic tour to town for a night of stripped down Blue classics, stories behind the songs and audience questions covering a variety of topics with nothing being out of bounds. The long sold out venue had an air of anticipation as Justin took the stage at 9pm to a hero's ovation. Clad in a simple sport jacket and surrounded by a perfectly understated stage set up with a few flickering lanterns, the mood was set for a night of music and stories that many in attendance will not soon forget.
The Open Book tour came about as a way to support the recently released 3rd edition of the book 'Crazy Making' by Furstenfeld which features the lyrics through the history of each Blue October release as well as original art and handwritten notes about each song. The book accompanied Justin on stage and seemed to be a perfect roadmap for a show like this. Starting at the beginning with the first Blue release 'The Answers', Justin spoke softly and briefly shared the stories behind his songs and so much more as he led the audience through the journey of Blue October. Some were tales filled with pain and sadness, but others were pure comedy gold that really let the magnetic personality of Furstenfeld shine through brightly. It seemed that a show like this, free of the rigid structure of a "normal" rock show really let Justin take the evening where he wanted and it worked from top to bottom.
Every song Justin played seemed to be better than the last. Simply stunning versions of Blue classic's "Chameleon Boy" and "Schizophrenia" washed over the venue like a wave of musical goodness. The very well behaved and attentive crowd (save one wine-drunk, old woman) couldn't help but sing back the chorus to "Calling You" as Justin sang the words with a perfect tone and feeling as emotion dripped from the ceiling of the venue.
The recently sober Furstenfeld was also not afraid to address his own personal issues on stage on this night either. One question asked of him from the audience was "Are you afraid the dark times will come back?" His answer was as honest as you would expect "I know the solution of my dark times now. My biggest fear in life is using again because of the domino effect. I just want to focus on my sobriety, my family. I don't have to let that dark shit back in." This answer garnered quite the ovation from the crowd as it was obvious to see from my seat that this man is working very hard not only to manage his past demons but to focus on the positives in life and move forward and it seems he is doing just that.
As the show went on, Furstenfeld reached the more recent Blue October releases and the intensity and emotion seemed to be turned up. With a slightly modified and fantastic version of the Blue smash "Hate Me" and an unexpected version of "Into The Ocean", the crowd was lapping up every single word. While speaking of the 2009 Blue release 'Approaching Normal', you could feel the conviction in Furstenfeld's stories as they related to his oldest daughter, Blue. He speaks so highly of her and as a father of a daughter, I can truly relate to that. Justin simply said "My Daughter. She means everything to me" before flowing into a perfectly succinct version of 'Graceful Dancing' in what may have been one of my favorite songs of the night.
As the set worked towards a close, Justin had one more release to discuss being 2011's 'Any Man in America'. You could feel some pain and remorse in Furstenfeld's words discussing this album as he almost choked up at one point while mentioning the people who helped him through that dark time in his life. The album was written while Justin was going through a trying divorce and losing custody of his daughter. With that, Justin played 'The Worry List' to perfection as you could honestly hear a pin drop in the packed venue. This was REAL emotion on stage and in song. This was not "a show", this was a man putting himself out for all to see.
The set found its perfect close with a new, unreleased song dedicated to Furstenfeld's new wife Sarah called 'Not Broken Anymore'. The words and emotions in this song really felt like a man that had found himself and finally made peace with his life. It seems that you cannot ask more than that and after watching this band for nearly a decade, I saw a man who was ready to move forward. One question that was asked of Justin on this night that I found to be particularly poignant was this: "What advice would you give someone in that dark spot?" Furstenfeld thought for a second and simply stated, "Don't leave before the miracle happens." Simple, but telling.
The Open book tour just reinforces why Justin is one of the most real and soulful people in music today. A man willing to strip everything down to its core to connect with his audience in a way few artists do today. If you have a chance to see Justin on this tour, I implore you to take it. You will walk out with a new appreciation of art and the REAL people living the stories behind the music. Who knows, you might just find your own miracle.
I had a chance to sit down with Justin prior to his show at The Old Rock House for a video interview where we discussed a variety of topics. You can watch it below:
For more info on Blue October, you can visit their website by clicking HERE.
REVIEW: Staind & Blue October @ The Pageant
REVIEW & VIDEO INTERVIEW: Blue October @ The Pageant
ALBUM REVIEW: 'Any Man In America' by Blue October
PREVIEW: An Acoustic Evening With Blue October
REVIEW: Blue October @ The Pageant
Check out past interviews and show reviews in the archive by clicking HERE.
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