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Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008

The BoDeans @ The Potawatomi Bingo Casino

Feb. 15, 2008

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Their hair may be grayer and the musicians backing them may have changed, but Sam Llanas and Kurt Neumann remain the heart and soul of The BoDeans. With uncanny harmonies and a dynamic electric/acoustic-guitar tandem, the duo with Waukesha roots has survived record-label politics, an ugly management lawsuit and industry indifference.

And Friday night at the sold-out Potawatomi Bingo Casino’s Northern Lights Theater—joined by keyboardist Bukka Allen, bassist Eric Holden and drummer Noah Levy—they proved that age and time have only strengthened them. Still, a new BoDeans album of impressive jangly (and sometimes dark) roots rock produced by recent Grammy-winner T-Bone Burnett, is slated for release on March 4, and a 12state tour kicks off a week later in Texas.

About 550 fans were treated to a laid-back, 95-minute preview of The BoDeans circa 2008 in the Northern Lights’ intimate dinner-theater surroundings, which added elegance to the evening but also served as a reminder that The BoDeans are best enjoyed under a starry summer sky. (Neumann, who delivered countless smoldering guitar solos, promised that the band would be back when temperatures warm up.)

Taking the stage with a pair of deep cuts from their 1986 Burnett-produced debut, Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams (“Ultimately Fine” and “Angels”), The BoDeans devoted about half of the 15-song set to material from their first four albums, punctuating “Still the Night” with another deep cut in “Hey Pretty Girl” and funking up “Good Work” with a bluesy riff and honky-tonk piano. The band also played three of the best tracks from Still. “The First Time” and “Everyday” rank among the band’s catchiest material in years, while “Waste A Lifetime” is destined to become a BoDeans classic. At this stage in their career, what could be better?