Whether he’s talking or singing, Todd Snider is mostly likely in the middle of telling a story. That’s what he did for close to two hours Wednesday night at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, where the singer and songwriter imparted folksy wisdom, funny asides and poignant reminiscences¬†that he sometimes accompanied with music from an acoustic guitar, and sometimes not. A song would inspire a story about the song, which would inspire another story and then another song, all of which stemmed from years’ worth of travels and experiences.
“I’ve been driving around this country forever making this shit up,” Snider cracked early in the first of two sets.
Alone on a stage decorated with footstools shaped like psychedelic mushrooms, and a little cloth-covered table adorned with a vase of flowers, Snider played guitar and sang songs spanning a catalog that dates back to his 1994 album “Songs for the Daily Planet.” He had the crowd whistling along on the blackly comic opener “Sunshine,” drew laughs when he referred to himself as an “evangelical agnostic” on the wry philosophical treatise “Happy New Year” and inhabited the distinctive, knowing voices of ¬†underachievers on “Lookin’ for a Job,” “The Very Last Time” and, well, pretty much everything else.
After closing the first set with the crowd favorite “Conservative Christian, Right-Wing Republican, Straight, White, American Males,” he returned for a second set that included requests from the audience. Selections included the sing-along “Beer Run,” a long story explaining the song “Don’t It Make You Wanna Dance?” and the self-deprecating “Can’t Complain.” Snider inserted a snippet of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” into “Play a Train Song,” explained long-since dated pop culture references in “Alright Guy” and cracked up the crowd again with the droll “Statistician’s Blues,” which posits that “64 percent of all the world’s statistics are made up right there on the spot.”
With that in mind, it seems fair to say that 99 percent of the packed-in audience had a good time watching a performer who was funny, generous and inviting with his music.