Live: The Autumn Defense @ Troubadour, 2.05.11

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All photos by David Greenwald

I imagine the Autumn Defense’s John Stirratt and Pat Sansone had to steal a few days away from Wilco’s new album sessions to play their California shows. But given the band’s ’70s-indebted folk-rock sound, one born mostly in Laurel Canyon and West L.A. venues such as the Troubadour itself, it would’ve been a shame to let an album cycle pass by without coming to what could’ve been their home turf in some earlier era. The time machine was in full effect on Saturday night, Sansone showing off a Graham Nash-worthy new beard and Stirratt’s sweet-toned vocals evoking Jackson Browne just minutes after the influential Troubadour veteran had left the stage.

The singer-songwriter pair and the rest of their five-piece band were in fine form, summer-breezing through new songs (“Back of My Mind,” “The Swallows of London Town”) and older material with able enthusiasm. The highlights of the show were the songs from 2004’s “Circles,” the band’s most solemn record and still my favorite. As Sansone and Stirratt harmonized on “The Sun in California,” the thought of their next-day flight back to America’s frozen half gave the song added poignancy; alas, LP8 waits for no man.