Live Reviews

BOY WITH THE AMPLIFIER HEAD (Sal Baglio and friends)

9 Wallis, Beverly, MA

10/21/17

A trek up to the North Shore at a new club showcasing ole friends. For 40 years, as leader of The Stompers, Sal Baglio has delighted local audiences with his majestic rockin’ tunes, spunk, and passion. Over recent years, he has also demonstrated another side to his prodigious energy – creating a sweep of low-key, pop-savant meditations about family, heritage, and other memorable characters. Brutally beautiful and sadly hilarious. He has labeled his new ensemble The Boy With the Amplifier Head, which features “the greatest living Englishman” Dave Mattacks (drums/ piano), Jeff Keithline (bass/ vocals), Todd Brunel (bass clarinet/ saxes), and Robert Rivera (cello).  All good – nah, make that GREAT! – and real real real. Live music created with acknowledged tradition and talent, serving us a big dollop of integrity!  Now that’s personal transcendence!

Sal opens solo with “Happiness is a Warm Gun” (one of John Lennon’s masterpieces) and a slow evocative version of The Stompers’ hit “American Fun”… “Well it’s so hard when you’re restless/ You live your life out on the run/ But all we really want is some American fun” that took my breath away.  He slowly brings out the group individually until they coalesce to perform an elegiac “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” The audience now truly gets the gist of the evening – a challenging acoustic delicacy with bursts of electric delight. During the next 90 minutes, he doles out some incredible songs – “Watercolors,” “Hobo Song,” “The Boy with the Amplifier Head,” “The Train to Liverpool” are stellar – often tossing in quotes of tunes by his pop heroes. Sir Sal, you are a songwriter, singer, and performer for the ages. A wonderful night for you, the band, and an inquisitive pop-starved audience. Bring it all back home!   (Harry C. Tuniese)

POSITIVE NEGATIVE MAN/

FOUR POINT RESTRAINTS

The Carousel, Salisbury Beach, MA

10/14/17

Salisbury Beach is one of my favorite places on the entire planet, and how could it not be?  In 1973 I watched the Sidewinders (purportedly WITH Billy Squier) open for Aerosmith at the wonderful Frolics Ballroom, which is now so much sand “under the boardwalk,” the brand new boardwalk along the beach 44 years later in 2017.  Salisbury has traded in the amusement park for nightclubbing, and that’s a good thing, though Uncle Eddie’s and Carousel could fall victim to the condo-mania happening at beachfronts, and – sadly – sooner than later.    But thanks to my Facebook LIVE in 2017 this writer got to catch another two acts on tape forty-four years after witnessing the Sidewinders – featuring vocalist Andy Paley, and Aerosmith… the band which… if Steve Tyler married Joe Perry he would be Steve Perry and we would be talking about Journey.

Positive Negative Man bounced back from their uneven show in Central Square at Club Bohemia August 31 with a terrific set on the large stage that crackled with energy, great lighting and solid sound.  It’s a wonderful atmosphere, pool tables in the back of the room, the ocean outside, and plenty of room for the audience.    PNM played selections from their college radio friendly Broken CD as well as newer material, the guitar interplay between Eric Gibbs and vocalist/guitarist Mike Feeney magical at some points, especially with the swirling lights that made the beach club feel more like the Fillmore East.  Drummer Dave Church has grown his hair a la Don Brewer in the early days of Grand Funk Railroad and it is a sight as the band chugs along back and forth between songs from bassist Peter Tomilloso and Feeney, both co-vocalists of the group.    The sound takes grunge up a notch with swirling science-fiction guitar lines from Mike Feeney – after all his guitar teacher was Roger Miller of Mission of Burma, and the sonic assault is to M.O.B. what many groups in the 70s were on that compilation Sons of the Dolls (as in New York Dolls.)   “Newport Beach” – the most recent CD Baby download single, was a departure with Church playing bongo or conga drums and the band mellowing it out for a few minutes, before blasting the audience back into oblivion.    Very excellent to see a band rebound so dramatically.

Four Point Restraints competed on the same energy level, despite the stark differences with the band genres, the bands were most compatible.  With their newest seven song release, Vicious Circle, the Restraints kept to their core mission – and maybe it was the fact that they followed a group into the blitzkrieg approach – PNM – that they upped their game from a previous show that I was able to take in about a year ago.  Vocalist Evan Gadowski controlled the large stage with Meagan Day’s bass, Mike Cashin’s drums and lead guitarist Will Barry providing the additional drive.  Again the club’s superb lighting system played into the atmospheric conditions, Gadowski’s harmonica going nicely along with the pink/red vibrations and Barry’s guitar scraping/rumblings straight into some country rock.   As stated, they followed a grunge/hard rock onslaught so their Flying Burrito Brothers approach needed the extra energy to keep the night’s theme going, but the ears did get somewhat of a break.   Meagan and Cashman generate a bottom as if John Entwistle and Charlie Watts decided to have a side band.  Very nice as guitarist Barry goes back to his intro musings along with Gadowski’s harmonica reprise. The audience liked it and the Facebook live, now up on Youtube, proves this writer’s memory intact on the event.

Gadowski’s songs have all sorts of intrigue so keeping an ear on the lyrics is mandatory.  Though the new album delves into the darkness, the live set has all sorts of nuances that entertain and shifts moods intelligently.  Ed Battles was the soundman and helps coordinate the shows. This was a good one.  (Joe Viglione)


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