Photo by Paula Trimble

Guster can still “Keep it Together” after 25 years

Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA

January 12-15, 2017

Story, photos, and videos by Paula Trimble

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If you wanted to go “where everybody knows your name,” you would have joined Guster for its sold out four-night stand at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston from January 12-15, 2017, in honor of the band’s 25 years together. From the band’s invitation to fans on Saturday to join them on stage for karaoke-style versions of Guster tunes, to “Thundergod” Brian Rosenworcel’s rendition of the nostalgic “Cheers” theme song, the anniversary concerts felt more like a college reunion weekend to reconnect with lifetime friends.

“Airport Song”

With the option of four-night passes for die-hard Guster lovers, the band sought to reward its followers with a smorgasbord of greatest hits, deep catalog cult favorites, and hands-on activities and meet-and-greet events that gave the most loyal fans opportunities to get behind the music. Fans traveled from all over the country to spend the weekend with Guster, including Nick from New Jersey, who has attended more than 200 Guster shows since they started at Tufts University in 1991. For me, it was a short flight from Washington, DC, but offered similar opportunities to spend time with the band members as my road trip to Burlington, VT, for Grand Point North in September as the winner of the Guster “Double Shot” contest.

Guster offered a twist to break up its set at Saturday, Jan. 14’s show at the Paradise Rock Club by unveiling a “Wheel of Songs,” which included Fan Karaoke. This resulted in some creative arrangements, when the wheel landed on “Melanie” twice, forcing the band to play the same song in a different time. It also resulted in lesser-played tunes such as “The Prize” and other Parachute album favorites. Fans joined Guster on stage for “So Long,” “Demons,” “The Captain,” and “Bury Me.” It was at this show that drummer Rosenworcel became the frontman for the “Cheers” theme song.

During Guster’s final show on Sunday, it was clear that lead singer Ryan Miller had taxed his vocal chords, but was unwavering in his commitment to put on a concert to remember. Guster thrilled fans with upbeat songs like “Red Oyster Cult,” “Airport Song,” and “Do You Love Me,” and Miller made the performance even more fan-centric, by donning sunglasses and joining the crowd on the floor of the Paradise Rock Club for “Doin’ It By Myself.” Miller and Adam Gardner acknowledged that as they sought to include songs from the beginning of their career, they noticed their music had evolved and improved over the years (“Even we don’t want to listen to some of these songs,” Miller shared.) The last show closed with the all four bandmates unplugging for their iconic “Jesus on the Radio.”

But the fun didn’t end there. Gusterrhoids in the know went on to catch up with the band for a secret word-of- mouth show at the jam-packed back bar at The Burren in Somerville, MA. After four days of performing the Guster anthology, the band instead charmed their audience with an assortment of covers, including The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You,” the Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun,” Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” and a performance of their own “Amsterdam” with an audience member named Spencer covering vocals for Ryan Miller. The show that started after midnight featured friends from other Boston-based bands, including Dave Schneider of the LeeVees, Tony Goddess of Papas Fritas, and Samantha Goddess of Jenny Dee & the Deelinquents.

After four shows covering 25 years of music, pre-show cocktail hours with fans, bowling at Sacco’s Bowl Haven in Davis Square, ice skating with friends and family at Boston Winter at City Hall Plaza, an interview with Jim Braude and Margery Eagan of WGBH’s Boston Public Radio at the station’s new satellite studio at the Boston Public Library ( radio-podcast/guster-celebrates- 25-years- live-show- bpl), and a late-night jam session at the Burren, two things are abundantly clear. Ryan Miller, Adam Gardner, Luke Reynolds, and Brian Rosenworcel love playing music for – and with – their fans, and despite their popularity, they have a connection with their fans that feels like a familiar bar where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came. . .

“Jesus on the Radio” with audience participation

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