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From the Country Standard Time Archives

The Wacos, Langford & His Sadies are worth the wait

TT the Bears, Cambridge, Mass., Jan. 30, 2003

By Jeffrey B. Remz

CAMBRIDGE, MA - After a long wait at the Canadian border, The Sadies made it down to the States along with their concert partners, the Waco Brothers. So was the wait - the show was delayed more than one hour?

For the most part yes. The Wacos, led by Jon Langford, are at the heart of what alt.-country may be about. There's a country feel to the music at times with a heavy dose of nods to the Rolling Stones thrown into the mix with a loud, jangly guitar sound. The Wacos, touring behind another strong album, "New Deal," are no youngsters. Steady drummer Stephen Goulding, for example, was part of Graham Parker's backing band The Rumour 25 years ago. Lively bassist Alan Doughty was with Jesus Jones ("Right Here Right Now").

Langford, perhaps better known as a member of the long running Mekons, does most of the lead vocals. He may not be the world's greatest singer, but he sings with the right sense of energy, conviction and love of the music.

Dean Schlabowske also takes some lead vocals and probably the same can be said about him as well.

What distinguishes Langford, however, is his keen sense of humor. He is exceedingly funny on stage with a slew of quick witted comments. Some are political, some are merely for fun. Almost all are entirely funny.

That was apparent from the get go when Langford was trying to determine with the help of the packed crowd where the group played last time in town. "Were we any good?" Langford asked.

But ultimately what matters most was whether the music is any good, and the answer was in the affirmative.

When the entire band got cranking on choruses as they did on "Do You Think About Me?" and the closing encore tribute to the late Joe Strummer, "I Fought the Law," they were dead on target.

Langford also handled duties fronting Jon Langford & His Sadies, who just released a disc on Bloodshot. Not exactly as raucous as The Wacos, Langford retained his humor, but the music during their 40-minute set was nowhere near the rock sound of The Wacos. The combination worked just fine.

Less exciting was a short set from The Sadies without Langford. The main problem is that Dallas Good isn't much of a vocalist and possesses no stage presence. Brother Travis Good fared far better.

But aside from that short misstep, an evening of the Wacos and Langford & His Sadies shows the wait was the hardest part.