Though the Jayhawks never really escaped the alt-country tag they received early on, this reunion tour between their two primary songwriters emphasizes the sweet harmonies that were a mainstay of the band’s best material.
Olson left the band in 1995. Though Louris has continued recording under the Jayhawks name, there’s no new material to promote, and any commercial viability the Jayhawks have is negligible; a reunion can only mean the duo enjoy exploring their back catalog as much as their small-but-dedicated fanbase considers it a treat to see them perform together again.
Olson and Louris played 23 songs in an hour and a half, hitting the breadth of their material, including “Sister Cry,” the key song from their ground-breaking 1992 album “Hollywood Town Hall.” The duo’s soaring harmonies sounded near-effortless throughout, as did Louris’ chorus-drenched guitar solos, filled with careful plucking and tuneful bends.
The Jayhawks always made music that called out to the past — hints of Neil Young and his cronies Crosby, Stills and Nash were apparent through the night — but now their effect on the present makes its way in as well. The Shins and Coldplay have lifted melodies from some of these songs, and harmonies as perfect as Olsen and Louris’ never sound old. Though this West Coast reunion tour won’t change their status as a band, it absolutely keeps the Jayhawks’ legacy intact.