At the end of a year packed with top quality gigs, I arrived here. Here happened to be a Classic Grand rammed with fans eager to see the return of the San Diego based rock ‘n’ rollers. Despite announcing as recently as 2011 that the band were unlikely ever to play together again, here we were for the reunion tour.
And judging from the size and the anticipation from the crowd, it was a worthwhile exercise. Barring a change in drummer in 2001 the line up has stayed pretty constant and, refreshingly, this remains the case. And it was also great to see a real mix of ages in there too.
The 6-piece took to the stage, replete with horn section and trademark matching shirts, launching into ‘Straight American Slave’. The energy from the stage was immediately apparent, unfortunately it wasn’t matched by the sound quality. Standing near the back I would’ve expected to be in an ideal position for clarity but as they went into ‘Carne Voodoo’ the vocals were still lost at the bottom of the mix. This took nothing away from the band who, straight from the off were in great form.
I’m not hugely familiar with the band’s back catalogue but as they rattled through a trio from the RFTC album followed by two from Circa Now the crowd were loving it. Things really kicked off when we got to ‘Middle’, the first of four from Scream Dracula Scream. Followed up by ‘Born In ’69’ and then the ubiquitous and fantastic ‘On A Rope’ the band continued to fight manfully against the muddy sound quality and by the time we got to the rockabilly stomp of ‘Boychucker’ everyone was having such a good time that nobody really cared.
This was followed by ‘When in Rome’ which was the only real dip in the set. The band work best with the short, sharp, punchy songs and I just felt it was a bit too long. In contrast, the excellent ‘Out of Control’ was just the opposite, two minutes of fun. They finished up the set with a full on version of ‘Come See, Come Saw’ with the horn section on top form.
After a short break – if for no other reason than to give the drummer a well-earned breather – they came back on to rattle through the fantastic ‘Dick on a Dog’ before finishing up with an epic ‘Glazed’ that seemed to last about 15 minutes. Well, it maybe wasn’t quite that long.
Barring the issue I’ve already mentioned about the vocals being so low in the mix, this was a great gig. The band had fantastic energy and, held together by a top drummer were superbly tight. Frontman John Reis was full of banter and some rather bizarre but never less than entertaining stories. A really good night out and hopefully next time I see them the sound will match the band.
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