Graham Parker & the Figgs ~ 2010 April 24 ~ Johnny D's, Somerville, MA
Band personnel: Graham Parker (lead vocals, guitar, harmonica); Mike Gent (backing vocals, guitar, occasional drums); Scott Janovitz (keyboards, occasional guitar); Pete Hayes (drums, percussion); Pete Donnelly (backing vocals, bass)and
The Figgs and the Muswell Hillbillies ~ 2010 April 24 ~ VFW, Somerville, MA (Kinks movie after-party)
Graham Parker and the Figgs
Chloroform - Turn It Into Hate - It's My Party - England's Latest Clown - Hole in the World (early demo, sounds a lot like "The Raid") - Life Gets Better - Weather Report - Broken Skin - You Hit the Spot - My Love's Strong - Black Lincoln Continental - Blue Highways - Bring Me a Heart Again - Snowgun - Bean Counter - Local Boys - Local Girls ... encore ... White Honey (GP with Mike Gent) - Mercury Poisoning - Soul Shoes
The Figgs Kover the Kinks
Tired of Waiting (sung by Mike) - Johnny Thunder (sung by Pete) - Starstruck (sung by Mike) - Village Green (sung by Mike ... a punked up version unlike any other you've heard) - Victoria (sung by Mike) - Stop Your Sobbing (sung by Pete) - Where Have All the Good Times Gone (sung by Mike) ... encore with Graham Parker ... Soul Shoes
I knew the Kinks-related movie Do It Again was playing at the Somerville Theater on this date. But coincidentally Graham Parker and the Figgs were playing at Johnny D's, right across the street from the movie, and at exactly the same time. As much as I was interested in seeing the Kinks movie, live music trumps a movie any time, so I got the tickets for GP and the Figgs.
Graham Parker has been my favorite live performer for the past six years. I've seen him several dozen times, and I particularly like seeing him backed by the Figgs. The show was excellent, although not as good as the other two shows I've seen on this tour, because at the other shows the Figgs played an opening set, and this time there was no opening act from The Figgs. This was due to time constraints; another band was playing later in the evening. However, if you read on you will find out I was more than compensated for the missing Figgs opening set.
The other band later on was going to be a Grateful Dead tribute band, so GP skipped playing "Sugaree." Good choice. It is such a waste when GP plays "Sugaree." In conversation with Mike after the show, he accused me of hating that song, and I told him he was right.
Johnny D's is a restaurant, with tables on the floor in front of the stage, but after people were done eating, the staff cleared the tables, transforming it into a standing venue! What a treat that was. Two of the three shows I saw on this tour were standing; what a great improvement over the "dinner theater" sort of presentation I've had to suffer through too often in the past few years of my concert going career.
GP looked stylish in a tweedy jacket over an orange t-shirt. He played an electric Gibson. I really like the "Figged up" versions of the songs from GP's new album, entitled Imaginary Television. There were a few changes from earlier shows on this tour. They dropped the kazoo song ("Head on Straight") and played "Snowgun" from the new album instead, and it rocked. Before "Bring Me a Heart Again" Graham warned the audience he would be playing a guitar solo during the song, and urged us to cheer wildly after the solo, which of course we did. We weren't faking; he sounded great playing it! He doesn't normally play lead, but he is a very accomplished guitar player nonetheless. There's a great deal more to effective rock guitar playing than just wailing away on the high up frets.
For me the highlight of this tour is "Local Boys," a song from Songs of No Consequence, an answer song to GP's classic hit "Local Girls." In the song, regular working guys ("local boys") from a working class town plead with a girl not to not to go off looking for high-style romance in a big city, when the "local boys" are just plain good guys. In the song there is a verse describing the various working class jobs held by the "local boys." The two Figgs vocalists (Pete Donnelly and Mike Gent) get to sing the verses by the "local boys." Mike has changed the lyrics to incorporate the other members of the band into the verse; Scott, Pete, Pete, himself, and even Graham. Such fun! A Kinks fan might think that it's a song Ray Davies could have written.
After the show, concert goers gathered around the merch table, where my concert going partner did some business (the new Figgs album, The Man Who Fights Himself).
While mingling with the band after the show, I heard Pete Donnelly say the word "Kinks" and of course I inquired further. I was wearing my Kinks guitar pick necklace, coincidentally. Pete told me that the Figgs were going down the block to play a party, and it just happened to be the after-party for the Kinks movie Do It Again. He encouraged me and my guy to take a short walk to the VFW and see if we could get in. We figured it wouldn't be hard for us to talk our way into any Kinks-related gathering, and if they gave us a hard time, well, we could just say we were with the band.
It turned out there was no doorman so we just walked in. There were a few folks milling around, including one person I'd seen at the Graham show. The Figgs came in and I had a nice chat with Pete Donnelly. Since we were now onto Kinks turf I chatted with him about my favorite band, talking up (as I always do) the contributions of Dave Davies to the Kinks katalog. Pete said the Figgs have been known to play "Death of a Clown" and I suggested that, although it's a great song, there are others by young Dave equally deserving of being kovered by a band like the Figgs. "Love Me Till the Sun Shines" came up in the konversation, and we started remembering lyrics, singing the song to each other as they came to mind. Here I am, sitting in the VFW in Somerville, singing "Love Me Till the Sun Shines" with Pete Donnelly of the Figgs, having just seen him play in the band with Graham Parker. It was the most bizarre congruence of my musical universes I have ever experienced.
It rapidly got even weirder. The Kinks movie must have ended, because a number of folks I know from the Kinks mailing list digest came in -- Jill Brand, her husband Thomas, Peter Bochner, Doug Hinman and a few other familiar Kinks fans. I couldn't believe it! Here I had gone to a Graham Parker concert and I was spending the evening with my Kinks kommunity! "All of my friends were there ..."
When the music started, first up was western Massachusetts' Dave Simon leading a band including a horn section of high school students. They played the first side of Muswell Hillbillies and it was quite fun. My friend Jill and I were singing along and loving every minute of it.
When the high schoolers were done the Figgs took the stage. I have heard the Figgs (and Mike Gent solo) play Kinks songs before, so they'd had previous experience with some of the songs, and they also tackled a couple of songs they didn't really know. Pete and Mike switched off lead vocals on alternate songs. Toward the end of their set someone entered the building (Kinks fan will recognize that reference) -- not the Kinks, but definitely a real rock star. Graham Parker had shown up, having heard there was a party down the street. Mike Gent invited him up on stage and they played an encore of Graham's own "Soul Shoes" (a song I had already heard at the real GP/Figgs concert earlier that evening). We think he should have attempted "You Really Got Me"!
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