whiskey in the dust bowl

There’s a saying that hell gets all the good music, and I’m inclined to believe it. Swilling whiskey and spinning tales of Satan and deserted towns, Murder By Death chilled bones and warmed hearts at The Annex in Madison, WI on August 29, 2008.

The charm of MBD live is that they have the earthy, easy feel of a bar band, but have propulsive, cinematic songs that go above and beyond your average local fare. Lending to their often anachronistic quality is the grizzled voice that emerges from singer Adam Turla’s mouth, a man too young to possibly make such sound. Also, Murder By Death would not be the must-see act they are without Sarah Balliet’s emotive cello playing – nay, rocking. More than an instrument, it’s an extension of her being. An extension that at times is covered in Iron Maiden decals.

Playing a mix of tracks that spanned their catalogue, the band cranked out tune after tune in a set that unfortunately flew by. Peppering the set was stage banter that included lines like “I am serious, you do not want to fuck with robots,” and a story about Arnold Schwarzenegger that began with “it’s worth it, trust me,” and ended with “at least make me come with your hands!”

If you missed Murder By Death this time around, fret not: Turla mentioned plans for a winter tour featuring material from 2003’s Who Will Survive, and What Will Be Left of Them? and their most recent release, Red of Tooth and Claw.