A Concert Review
Things like this don't happen very often. "Things like
what?" you may ask. Well, as fate would have it, I'm at the
Sheryl Crow show (now you're saying "I thought this was a
review of The Wallflowers?" Well, hold your damn horses and
read on), and I'm getting ready to bolt early. The encore starts and
who comes on stage? Well, none other than Rami Jaffe and Jakob
Dylan. "Holy shit," I say to myself, "I'm actually at
a show with some surprise guests!!" I guess The Wallflowers
boys were in town a day early, so me, I kinda got to see two shows
of The Wallflowers!!
Not remembering much about The Wallflowers other than their radio
hits, the Sheryl Crow surprise was a great intro into what I could
expect for their own show. It made me eagerly await their headlining
gig, but had me kind of worried. Now I know I shouldn't be basing my
early opinion on a five song encore as guests with only a couple of
The Wallflowers boys, but I was a tad concerned. See, it was most
excellent hearing covers of "Not Fade Away," the Lou Reed
classic "Pale Blue Eyes," and a great duet of "The
Weight" - the Robbie Robertson/The Band tune, but my concerns
carried through to the next night as I watched and listened to a
full-blown Wallflowers show. So what the hell was this concern
about? Well, as musically talented as everything came off for the
Sheryl Crow encore, the commanding stage presence and energy never
hit a peak. Sure it was casual, kind of fun, but never went over the
top. I was really worried that The Wallflowers show would just end
up a bunch of talented musicians on stage, singing their songs, and
then getting the hell out of town. I was almost right, almost.
So, the next night arrives, I pay the parking dude $15.00 (what a
rip-off!), and head into The Riviera for The Wallflowers headlining
performance. My first observation is the crowd. Ranging from this
pack of 10 year old punk kids wearing pants and t-shirts that would
fit their 14 year old brothers to this older lady whose wardrobe
appeared to be trapped in the sixties, it was pretty plain to see
that The Wallflowers appealed to many an age group. My second
observation is the show.
Opening up, The Wallflowers meandered on stage to the tune of
"One Headlight" which got the crowd going from the start.
And as into it the crowd got, the band didn't seem to. My fear from
the previous night was starting to come true. See, the first time I
heard "6th Avenue Heartache" I kinda compared The
Wallflowers musical stylings to Springsteen. And you know, as
techno-pop is starting to make its come-back, I welcomed a
resurgence of pure and simple rock & roll, and if The
Wallflowers were going to lead the way, hell, let them sound like
Springsteen, and please let them put on a show like Springsteen,
just please don't let them have great songs then be boring on stage.
Dammit, they were becoming just that, boring on stage.
They cruised "Ashes to Ashes," "Bleeders,"
and got rid of "6th Avenue Heartache" early on which had
me wondering what was coming up to keep the crowd going even if the
band just kind of seemed to be going through their motions. They had
some great solo's rounding out the band's musical talents up to this
point, and it wasn't a bad show, I was just starting to get a little
disappointed that the talent on stage was just that - talent - but
lacked the passion and energy to propel The Wallflowers into a
supergroup for years to come. Then I hear the opening chords from
the Carly Simon classic "You're So Vain" and I'm starting
to get my hopes up, here comes the energy, the fire, it's the
perfect song. But, alas, they still seemed to be going through the
motions, even through "Josephine" and "God Don't Make
But then something happened. Maybe it was a shift in the lunar
cycle, maybe the spirit of Elvis possessed the band, or maybe it was
just the girls in the audience screaming their longings for Mario
Calire, the drummer. I don't know, but the band kicked into
"The Difference," the crowd went wild, and all of a sudden
it looked like the boys in the band were finally having some fun.
They started joking, the solos sounded fresh, and finally this band
reminded me of the passion and energy that have defined so many
great bands through the years. It was into a great upbeat version of
Smokey Robinson's "Tears of the Clown," the band left the
stage, and in the little lapse of time before the encore started I
wondered what took the band so long to let loose.
Back out on stage for the encore, the energy kept up, and a
couple of songs later the night wrapped up with a rockin', up-beat
version of "Raspberry Beret" which might have had Prince
rolling in his grave (had he not still been alive).
So, this rating is tough. I should probably give them a Shrug or
One Thumb Up based on the fact that it took them over half of the
show to really premiere their talent as a band. But, I guess the
fact that the crowd kept pumping energy into the show from start to
finish will give them an extra nod. So, it's TWO BIG OL' THUMBS UP
for The Wallflowers.
The Wallflowers are a great band, and maybe that's why they can't
hit that next level, yet, - they're too much of a band with no one
taking the lead on stage. Sure, Jakob Dylan seems to be the
"leader" of the band as a group, but the better concert
bands have a front man, someone who connects the crowd to the band,
and Jakob hasn't hit that comfort level yet. Don't be shy Jakob, the
crowd will follow - you just have to nudge them a little.
That's it for this one, I'm The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!