Friday, February 22, 2008

MORE WAS (IS BACK)...

Posted By on Fri, Feb 22, 2008 at 6:24 PM

HITS Magazine senior editor (which was one of my old jobs!) Roy Trakin blogged this morning about the great Was (Not Was) Los Angeles show on Valentine's Day that we wrote about earlier this week.. and you can find right below this post. Trakin provided a few tidbits that the L.A. Times review missed (which is hardly surprising). Still sounds like a terrifically fantastic night. Damn, wish I could've been there.

Here's what Roy wrote:

Was (Not Was) at the Orpheum Theater, L.A.: You can take the crazy white boys out of Detroit, but you can’t take the Motor City out of their music. The second annual Valentine’s Day spectacular marked a reunion for the seminal ‘80s funk-rockers, with the Was bros and the pimpalicious Sweet Pea Atkinson, decked out in white suit, open collar rust shirt and matching, feather-sporting fedora, joined by original singers Sir Harry Bowens and Donald Ray Mitchell, drummer James Gadsden (a longtime Bill Withers collaborator) and funktastic Bonecrushers axe-wielder Randy Jacobs. After a short, sweet set by the criminally underrated Jill Sobule, who sardonically dedicated "Nothing to Prove" to a 19-year-old major label A&R scout she recently auditioned for, the band took the stage, spinning out a dramatic "Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone" that started out like the theme from some forgotten blaxploitation classic, David the pied-eyed piper on flute, Paul Shilts wailing on sax. "I Feel Better Than James Brown" offered the classic Was (Not Was) psychedelic, funk-rock hybrid that sounds every bit as good in the present as it did on MTV back in the day. David takes the mike for his tongue-in-cheek, Zappaesque "Hello Dad, I’m in Jail" segueing into the great "Carry Me Back to Old Morocco." After introducing "Semi Interesting Week," a new song from their upcoming Ryko album, Boo!, with Sir Harry taking the mid-range vocal for a tale that lampoons Tom Cruise and Scientology, special guest Kris Kristofferson ambles up and a hootenanny breaks out, with a four-song set that starts with"Help Me Make It Through the Night" and "Sunday Morning Coming Down," before closing with "Silver-Tongued Devil and I" and "Moment of Forever," the title track to Willie Nelson’s current album. He jokes that his five-year-old son told him that "Devil" is a bad song because "you blame all your troubles on somebody else." Sir Harry's undulating, sensuous "Out Come the Freaks" and a rollicking "Walk the Dinosaur" leads into the politically incorrect "I Blew Up the United States," in which Dave uncannily predicts the succession of Raul Castro in Cuba before spinning a yarn about an apocryphal boat trip taken by Donovan and Curtis Mayfield, resulting in the mash-up, "Sunshine Superfly" and an "11 MPH" that moves at least 10 times that fast. If that’s not enough, Brian Wilson himself ambles up with his frequent collaborators, Wondermints’ keyboardist Darian Sahanaja and guitarist Nick Walusko, to run through "California Girls" and "God Only Knows"—which, no matter how many times I hear it, still manages to move me—before the once and future Beach Boy leads the assemblage in an overlapping singalong of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." At this point, dreadlocked Don’s glazed stoner smile is even more beatific than usual, as one and all gather for an encore of "Me and Bobby McGee," done border-style, and a final "Fun, Fun, Fun" that has the two legends beaming at adjacent mikes as Sir Harry spins like a wayward top. The audience at the magnificent downtown Orpheum (does this city have enough top-notch music venues?) finally gets to its feet from the plush theater chairs to join in, and they do until daddy takes the T-Bird away. There was plenty of heart to go around on this most romantic of all days, and a whole lotta soul to boot. This is the kind of old school you don’t mind returning to.

A younger incarnation of the Was Bros: You can't take the Motor City out of their music...

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