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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

What I Like About Glue, Part II: 2005's Shows

  1. RASPBERRIES @ BB King's, NYC 7.24.05
    This was one of those freaky, rare, once in a lifetime shows that was pure magic in a bottle. The Saturday gig (7.23) was quite the opposite. Close friends said they weren't up to snuff, the mix sucked and the nerves were apparent. It was their first NYC show in over 30 years and they had a rep to live up to. Luckily they had a second shot at redemption, and they soared like the live power pop dream machine you wished was always THIS ON.

    There really isn't anything else to compare what it's like to hear "Tonight," "Ecstasy," "Go All The Way," "I Don't Know What I Want" and "Overnight Sensation" in their full blown glory. This was BIG music that never once sounded overblown or grandiose. AND that's what's always BEEN the genius of Eric Carmen and his Raspberries oeuvre. Time capsule of all time capsules was 1972-1974 where all EC touched was pretty much pop manna: The post-Mod era--which never was given a name beyond a posthumous Power Pop "tag."

    These days I sense Eric's concept flies a bit closer to David Bowie's (musically speaking) than say Badfinger or Big Star's; which sounds silly until you hear Bowie swipe Steve Marriott (Wham Bam Thank You Mam) and cover The Who and Easybeats next to The Berries' "Tonight" and "I Can Hardly Believe You're Mine." Both really wanted to capture the energy and height of the '60s mod movement, but make it all new in 1972 and 1973.

    Carmen's performance of "I Don't Know What I Want" was (as it's always been) an insanely intense tribute to The Who (one for the ages) while "Ecstasy" was the most amazing power pop performance ever. This was a week to remember: Eric Carmen called in on my radio show for a short, but spirited interview. I can rest now.
  2. MARJORIE FAIR @ Mercury Lounge, NYC
    This was the biggest surprise of the year. As much as MF's debut "Self Help Serenade" grew on me, there was a sense that the band would NOT be worth checking out, because like many shoe-gazer bands, the excitement level can be very low. After seeing underwhelming gigs by Coldplay and Doves, I wasn't expecting this American band to be all that great. Well I was way off the mark, and I'm glad I didn't let my skepticism get the best of me.

    They were stuck on a bill at Mercury Lounge between a local Buck Cherry wannabe and Elkland. There was probably 8 people there to see them. I was there with my friend Tommy Allen. We withstood the wannabe band and waited as Marjorie Fair set their stuff up. This was one of this classic 25 minute breaks where the band puts on their own music inbetween sets while they get ready to go on. A vibe was in place. Kinda sounded like Sufjan Stevens and other moody indie pop.

    About halfway into the break they set up their video backdrop which was a cool abstract use of film footage. Kinda reminded me of a film version of those Echo & The Bunnymen album covers.

    As the band settled in and got their gear hooked up, a sound slowly arose. Guitarist/lead singer Evan Slamka quietly and unassumingly plugged in and joined the bassist, keyboardist and drummer in this swelling surge. After a few minutes of sound they broke into my latest favorite song off the CD, "Silver Gun" (almost lost and tucked away on track 11).

    What became immediately clear was that Evan was an amazing singer with an emotional pull that took it up a notch. He was also doing the big Johnny Greenwoodesque guitar work. Not shabby. "Silver Gun" segued without a break into the disc's opening cut, "Don't Believe" and everything I thought was impossible had been pulled off. Finally a band who pulls off the whole Radiohead/Verve vibe without being a rip-off or too nice and sweet. It was perfect. "Don't Believe" segued without a break into "Waves." It was the best 1-2-3 punch of the year.
  3. FLASHCUBES/THE LUXURY @ The Paradise, Boston, MA 11.11.05
    I love my Flashcubes and I'm always a bit biased, but this year's lone performance at Boston's Paradise for the annual IPO fest, was indeed a monumental moment. It was almost exactly 365 days since all four had convened on a stage. Per usual, the IPO setup was fast and short. The 'Cubes got no soundcheck which meant they had to do everything on the fly because there wasn't a rehearsal (no "Hello Suzie" this year, damn).

    This year Gary, Arty, Paul and Tommy didn't opt for the ritual Indian food feast. We took next store for some fast Mexican which wasn't bad. Current stories of what's gone on since whenever the last time everyone saw each other took place. Arty came in with the habitual new item for the guitar set-up, just so that it won't be predictable. We went back to the club to see this amazing new local band called The Luxury who have a lead singer much like that of the guy in Stereophonics, but their music has a strong romantic underpinning which had all of us singing their praises all night. It must've gave the 'Cubes a boost, because their set, which followed, was an incendiary monster to match their best.

    The set was their usual well-tailored 1-2-3 bang it out of the park wallop of power pop and Paul Armstrong punk ("Pathetic" and "I Need Glue [More Than I Need You, Baby Baby Baby Baby]"!), but was even tighter than usual as they went five for five without a second to break. Drummer Tommy Allen taking top honors as most valuable player again. Bassist Gary Frenay looking on as if this shit is just too freaky too believe, but pleased as shit that he's in a band that rocks so mercilessly.

    They closed with Eddie & The Hot Rods "Do Anything You Wanna Do" and got called back for an encore which included The Jam's "In The City." Much to my surprise and Gary Frenay's was the almost in unison standing ovation from the crowd, who were all politely digging this last set of the night, but most of whom were virgin eyes and ears to these boys from Syracuse.
  4. BRIAN WILSON @ Wolf Trap, Vienna, VA
    Amazing mid-summer night's dream concert under the stars. 1st set was beach Boys tunes. 2nd set was "SmiLE" in its entirety. Wow.
  5. PERNICE BROTHERS @ Jammin' Java, Vienna, VA
    New live line-up. A stronger band.
  6. HAMELL ON TRIAL @ Sarah Street Grill, Stroudsberg, PA 12.22.05
    Hamell's 2nd release for Righteous Babe is set for this month. Judging from the majority of new stuff debuted, the boy hasn't lost one iota of his wit and muscle. And we got some great X-mas jokes to boot.
  7. ED HARCOURT @ Maxwell's, Hoboken, NJ
  8. SCREEN TEST @ Shifty's, Syracuse, NY
  9. MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE @ Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, NJ 1.1.05
  10. RICHARD BARONE @ Joe's Pub, NYC 4.29.05
  11. THE LOST PATROL @ The Goldhawk, Hoboken, NJ
  12. WONDER STUFF @ Irving Plaza, NYC 5.8.05
  13. FLESH FOR LULU @ The Loop Lounge, Passaic Park, NJ
  14. GRIFFIN HOUSE @ The Goldhawk, Hoboken, NJ
  15. JOE'S BAND @ Duck Inn, Chaumont, NY 10.29.05


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