It may have taken 26 years, but things have finally started to settle down for the Jayhawks.
The five-piece alt-country band from Minneapolis has gone through a five-year hiatus and numerous lineup changes — including the decade-long departure of guitarist and vocalist Mark Olson, which left fellow guitarist Gary Louris in charge of the bulk of the band’s songwriting.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
In 2009, the band reunited and Olson and Louris began collaborating on new material. On Saturday, at a nearly full Beaumont Club, the Jayhawks played a few of these new songs but drew predominantly from a large and dynamic back catalog to showcase and celebrate its great music.
The band opened its nearly two-hour set with the folksy “Wichita” and followed it with “Cinnamon Love” — a punchy rock song found on the band’s most recent album, “Mockingbird Time.”
The vocal tandem of Olson and Louris sounded nearly flawless. The harmonies during “Two Angels” and “She Walks in So Many Ways” created some impressive Byrds-esque moments in which each singer complemented the other without overpowering the song.
Songs like “Closer to Your Side” and “I’d Run Away,” which evokes Gram Parsons’ best material, highlight Olson and Louris’ craftsmanship as songwriters.
The setlist favored uptempo songs, which is also when the band is at its best. The poppy “Miss Williams’ Guitar” (a love song for Olson’s former wife, singer/songwriter Victoria Williams) sounded great and featured some nice guitar work by Louris, whose fretwork was brilliant throughout the show.
Slower numbers provided a nice change of pace, like the melodic “Take Me With You (When You Go)” and “A Break in the Clouds.” The mood of the concert never dipped, but it threatened to drag during the all-too-slow “Clifton Bridge.” Fortunately, the band quickly followed it with the energetic “Angelyne” and the hypnotic “Black-Eyed Susan.”
The night’s best moments included an impassioned version of one of the Jayhawks’ best-known songs, “Blue,” which had the audience singing and clapping along.
A spirited take on the Sister Rosetta Tharpe gospel number “Up Above My Head” was equally memorable.
The night ended with a cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “Bad Time” — a straightforward rock song proving that even if things have settled down for the Jayhawks, they can still throw a fun party.