LIVE REVIEWS: July 2009

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THE ELASTIC WASTE BAND (MORPHINE?)
Atwood’s Tavern, Cambridge, MA
5/26/09

I consider myself a pretty big Morphine
fan; I’d see them every chance I could back when their singer, Mark
Sandman, was alive. When I heard that Atwood’s Tavern was hosting
a residency featuring Morphine [the band doesn’t claim to be called
Morphine…ed.], I must admit, I was a little thrown back. It’s been
a little over ten years since I saw the Morphine I knew and loved, but
the thought of the band resurrecting these songs was something I couldn’t
miss so I arrive at Atwood’s early, feeling a bit hopeful and nostalgic.
It isn’t long before the band takes the stage; Dana Colley picks up
his saxophone and Jerome Dupree nestles in behind the kit. Joining them
on stage is Boston’s own Jeremy Lyons, in the difficult role of filling
Mark Sandman’s shoes with vocals and two-stringed bass. Jeremy, an
extremely talented musician in his own right, does very well though
and quickly wins any non-believers over. This new version of Morphine
mixes in a few of Jeremy’s songs with the old Morphine song catalog.
The end result is a bit of the past and a bit of the present, with new
takes on old songs, and the result is pure magic. The songs sound amazing
and I’m grinning from ear to ear with pure joy. It’s late on a Tuesday
night, but no one’s leaving. Atwood’s is packed with people captivated
by songs like “Buena”, “French Fries and Pepper”, “Every Night
at 11 O’clock,” “Thursday,” “All Wrong,” “Scratch.”
The band even does “Patience,” a Mark Sandman rarity released posthumously
on the Hi-N-Dry Sandbox CD. Dana announces that the band will be returning
to the festival in Italy where Mark collapsed ten years ago to commemorate
Mark Sandman’s death. The crowd is supportive of the trio and gives
them a big hand, most are just happy to hear these songs again. A lot
of time has passed and some wounds are harder to heal than others but
the music of Mark Sandman and of his band, Morphine is thankfully here
to stay. (Kier Byrnes)

 

INSURRECTION, GRAVE INTENT, SEVEREDMIND, R.A.R
The Big Easy, Portland, ME

6/1/2009

RAR! Why does that have to be an acronym
for Rite as Reign, why can’t it just be RAR! like the roar of a leather-queen
lion? Well they have their moments, a couple of inter-tempo glitches,
but they can get a rockin’. It reminds me of sort of a heavy metal
Night Ranger. The singer can sing, but I hear it’s his first show
and he doesn’t have much of a stage presence going. He performs quite
a while with a hand casually in his pocket. Pounding PBRs, they begin
to grow on me by the time they hit their “Carpe Diem” tune. But
while I was outside, yet still listening, their first few songs were
decidedly lighter. Light heavy rock has no place in my life. The bassist
has an oddly percussive style alternating with power chords, if that
kind of thing is possible. But I like the crunchy guitar, the singer
has talent, but front man persona goes further without your hand in
your pocket.

SeveredMind is up next and has a decent
heavy sound but no actual singing, and ya know, I sort of like my singers
to sing because anyone can yell rhythmically. He is a sparkly force
though, and when he banters with the crowd, he has the thickest Boston
accent which makes me miss my homeland a little bit. I notice that songs
sort of seem to bleed into each other no matter how rocking the tune
when you have a chanting/yelling kind of front. But God damn it, I decide
that I like it, maybe I am hungry for some soul thumping; can’t remember
the last time I had the opportunity to support local Metal. But damn
I wish there was less vocal drone. I am almost of two minds here, focus
on the instruments and just enjoy. Maybe that is the point of their
band name; use your severed mind to appreciate the components separately.

Local legend Nikko Villacci no longer
plays, or so he tells me on the sidewalk before he hits the skins with
a group of young men originally from North Carolina that he has taken
under his wing in Maine. Bone-vibrating bass end, good gravelly singer
with the charm that comes from a nice southern state that still references
the North. The drums are very bright, a bit too bright to fit the sound.
Poppy; but when in doubt, blame it on the sound guy. When Grave Intent
plays their first original tune that has sections of slowness, a bit
of weakness shows. Nikko has been in the scene for a million years,
vowed retirement at forty, which apparently means adopting wayward southerners
for a throw down, grungy, buzzing good time.

“Hey Homeboy! Whit ah you playing?”
Big Guy actually looks down at the heavy object strung over his shoulder
to check and says “Bass”. He turns to his out-of-country compatriot
and says helpfully, “See?” Okay, so I thought I might be being a
little hard on the other bands, but the impossible-act-to-follow, Insurrection,
addresses all the pitfalls I was noticing earlier. Tight and talented;
a raging singer, heavy; just gorgeous power chords, fucking nice. This
particular set has a couple of ballady moments that I personally think
one should forgo in this genre until you are beyond your first arena
show, but when they rock, make no doubt about it, they fucking rock.
Really great gang vocals too. My good gosh golly, thank you for proving
my point Insurrection, hitting on all cylinders where others think a
V-3 can run a vehicle. They thrill the last dozen still standing at
this late hour on a Monday night. Insurrection. Remember the name and
see ‘em. If you need help, try the marketing trick I heard them discussing
earlier in the night, t-shirts or better yet, panties that would say
“Insert Erection”. And when the shattered drumstick I had picked
up and shoved in my back pocket accidentally ends up in the toilet at
the end of the night I decide to experiment with the flush power, and
smile. I am happy. A very good metal Monday night. (Stace)

 

GARY SHANE & THE DETOUR,
THE BRIGANDS, THIRD RAIL, THE BOIZE

The Cantab Lounge, Cambridge, MA
6/13/09

It is sad to say it but tonight several
groups of talented people are delivering a cautionary tale on how not
to put on a successful rock ‘n’ roll show. The Boize DO deliver some
very palatable power pop. In fact, it is good to hear that these Somerville
heroes are in Triple B Studios with Rayboy who is capturing their melodic,
upbeat pop for a full-length recording. Bruce Brodeen of Not Lame would
love their sound! Don’t get me wrong; I have no beef with the Boize
as musicians or as human beings. Moreover they and their very friendly,
enthusiastic teeming hordes of fans are some of the coolest people you
could meet. My beef is with their opening the show. Here is the result—they
open the show, they PACK the show. When their set is over, everyone
is left smiling from the Boize danceable sounds. Then the Boize leave
and the crowd leaves, dooming the other bands to play for a near empty
club.

Next up is Third Rail featuring the
legendary Richard Nolan. Nolan is one of the first musicians along with
Willie Alexander and Jon Macey of Fox Pass to inspire an innocent, provincial
girl from North Carolina (yes, yours truly) to become fascinated with
the Boston rock ‘n’ roll scene in 1976. Nolan like many other Boston
rockers published his own fanzine, which was always well written and
chockful of fun scene gossip and news. Third Rail was immortalized on
the
Live at the Rat album with “Rondey Rush” and “Bad Ass
Bruce.” When I wonder aloud to Michael Stewart of the Brigands why
Richard isn’t singing some of his classic Third Rail hits, Stewart answers
that Richard is promoting his current ten-song CD, which you can order
via the Third Rail myspace. Richard and the gang are doing a formidable
job especially considering they had only two practices. I am greatly
impressed by the support given by Rayboy on drums and Billy Connors from
the Boize on guitar. Stylistically, I would like to see Richard forego
the shorts and deliver his hits along with crowd pleasers like “Sweet
Jane.”

Well the Brigands treat the audience
to that old Asian favorite—”Tu-Kning, played at maximum volume,
too. Although another “Tu-Kning” afficiando, Richard Lloyd says,
“East Indian musician tune up for 45 minutes and symphonies might
tune up for an hour,” this IS rock ‘n’ roll. Get some Grover machine
heads and get down to business! Another complaint I have is that Michael
Stewart’s guitar is not loud enough. Stewart does play some tasty
Johnny Thunders’ style riffs but they get lost in the mix. And while
I’ve always dug the way the Brigands hit the groove on the Long Ryders’
“Looking For Lewis And Clark,” I’d like to see the band toss the
La Peste covers and “Brand New Cadillac” in favor of more originals.
In fact, “Jet Setter,” one of the highlights of their set, is slated
for release on a Teenage Heart compilation.

First off, it is a damned shame that
the room isn’t packed to see Gary Shane & the Detour. This is
the guy that topped the charts with “Shadow World” in 1979 and again with
“Johnny’s Coaltrain” in 1982. The latter is a clever homage to jazz
saxophone king, John Coltrane. Gary Shane aka Gary Lavenson is a brilliant,
unstoppable individual. Shane was diagnosed with MS, a degenerative
disease of the nervous system in 1985. This led him on a quest to Greece
where he undertook a radical cure that he would never have had access
to in the states. Despite the fact that Shane sits through his set,
he EXUDES vitality that SHINES from his eyes, his smile, and his music.
He RESONATES an immense joie de vivre. Gary and company lay down an
authentic bluesy vibe. Although I have never heard Gary’s finely chiseled
masterworks like the aforementioned Northeastern chart toppers, it is
inspiring to see an artist who can and does deliver the goods with style
and class. To quote a fellow from across the pond, Gary’s got a Heart
full of soul. (Nancy Neon)

 

AL JANIK’S PLASTYCZNY SER ORKSTRA
The St. Stanislaus Day Polka
Party

The Polish American Club 5/23/09

The first announcement of the night
is that the bar is already out of the Polish beer. These Pollack’s
get started fast and hard. The brew is required to accompany the excellent
layout of Polish cuisine, including pierogi, kapusta, kielbasa, golumpki,
and chrusciki and—put together by Roberta. Soon the band greets us
with “Happy Polka Party.” The room is large with seven 8-foot round
tables and there’s still plenty of room for dancing. The Plastic Cheese
Band (that’s the English translation) has expanded since I last saw
them—they’re got two accordions, and a 3-piece horn section to compliment
the guitar, bass, and drums rhythm section. And then of course, on lead
personality is Al Janik. He’s got a friendly-man speak/sing style
and a snappy red and white glitter vest to complete his 3-piece suit
(4, counting the hat). The band rolls into “Polka Celebration” and
Al’s 11-year-old son Kalvin runs up to the stage to join in on the
chorus. It’s truly a family affair when Kathryn, Al’s wife, is the
first to strut her dancing skills, and Al’s mother, Busia (that’s
Polish for grandma), is contacted by cell phone. The band is excellent
with multiple modulations within some songs. Al has a Three-Stooges-rolled-into-one
quality about his performance. He makes it easy for everyone to sing
along on one song—he displays a large sheet of paper that reads “LA
LA LA…” and not missing a trick, he turns it around to read “AL
AL AL…” The event is a total hit; lots of local celebrities make
up the audience including Ed “Moose” Savage, Steve and Sue (My Own
Worst Enemy), Jordan Valentine (who get sup to sing a couple of numbers),
Dennis McCarthy (the Prime Movers), Tamara Gooding (Gene Dante &
the Future Starlets), Nancy Delaney (Temper), Tracy Stark (WZBC), Sean
and Linda (Curious Ritual), Russ Gershon (Either/Orchestra), and Claire
(a mature Polish gal who got there and stayed the whole night despite
the cast on her foot). If you missed it this year, don’t next year,
it’s the one time you can really polka your pierogi off.
(T Max)

 

We get a lot of calls and emails
from bands requesting coverage of their live shows. Please be advised
that shows are never assigned for review. Noise writers cover what they
choose to attend. It’s logistically impossible for us to honor or
acknowledge these requests. The Noise has always had its ears close
to the ground in Greater Boston. If you’re doing something even remotely
exceptional, we’ll be the first to tell the world. If you’re horrible,
same thing.

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