John BaizleyThe North Door, March 16
"I wrote the last Baroness record in 2010," said John Baizley during this cathartic set. "It was not a good year for me, and it's gotten considerably worse since then." That bit of understatement represented the only direct reference to the 2012 bus crash that derailed the psych-metal band. Wielding a hollow-body electric with enough reverb on it to make it sound like mist transformed into sonic waves, Baizley finally got a chance to perform tracks from the band's erstwhile breakthrough here in the States, Yellow & Green, with atmospheric takes on "Cocainium," "Foolsong," and "Mtns. (The Crown & Anchor)." He also dug into the Townes Van Zandt songbook – the millennial metalhead's favorite songwriter – for "If I Needed You" (the song that helped him relearn guitar) and "St. John the Gambler," on which Yakuza leader Bruce Lamont provided ghostly sax. Royal Thunder singer Mlny Parsonz also joined Baizley, singing on harrowing epic "Eula." Despite darkness soaking the songs, Baizley came across as sincerely thrilled to be onstage, repeatedly thanking the crowd for its support during the most difficult time of his life. No one comes as close to death as Baizley and his bandmates did and comes out unchanged. This experience very obviously deepened his understanding of a most important emotion: gratitude.