The Slambovian Circus of Dreams ~ 2015 March 15 ~ Johnny D's ~ Somerville, MA
Band Personnel: Joziah Longo, lead vocals, guitar, mandolin, harmonica; Sharkey McEwen, guitar, mandolin, backing and lead vocals; Eric Puente, drums; Tink Lloyd, accordion, cello, flute, electric guitar, tambourine, cowbell, backing vocals ... also known as Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams ... or ... The Grand Slambovians.
Grand Slambovians - Picture - Very Happy Now/Epistle to Dippy/I Wanna Be Sedated - Very Unusual Head - Baby Jane - Lost Highway - Oh Susanna - Trans-Slambovian BiPolar Express ... intermission ... Northern Sea - Halo - Holy Roller - Box of Everything - Tink (I Know It's You) - Alice In Space
The Circus were playing their third show in three nights, and it seemed in the first set that they were a little tired. Joziah didn't banter very much, and as the fans of this band know, Joziah's banter is one of the reasons for going. But there was nothing wrong with them musically, and they indulged in a couple of fan favorites they haven't played much of late, "Picture" and "Baby Jane." The first set was also highlighted by their brilliant mashup of their own tune, "Very Happy Now," with two songs that provided inspiration for it, Donovan's "Epistle To Dippy" and the classic Ramones singalong "I Wanna Be Sedated," on which Sharkey sings lead vocal. (And with splendid punk affectation, I might mention.)
As is their custom the band took an intermission, and they must have had coffee because they came out with considerably more energy for the second set. Highlights included two new songs, "Halo" and "Holy Roller." I had heard them do "Halo" at the Christmas show at the Kate last December, at which time the use of a very distracting video backdrop made me forget to listen to the song. This time no such distraction existed, and I can see the makings of another audience favorite and an easy singalong, as the song features a simple, compelling melody and some very cute lyrics: "I want a halo, to sit upon my headbone." The other new tune, "Holy Roller," is a rockin' rave-up and both Eric (drums) and Sharkey (lead guitar) were at the top of their game on this one.
Multi-instrumentalist Tink Lloyd played her usual accordion, cello, and percussion, and she also played flute (an instrument for which she has been classically trained) on "Halo" and electric guitar on "Holy Roller." Electric guitar!
Johnny D's has done some renovating since April of 2010, the last time I went there for a concert. There is a better seating arrangement than there used to be. For tonight's show the dance floor in front of the stage was open, and there were groups of tables scattered along the sides of the dance floor, against the windows looking out onto Davis Square, and on a slightly raised mezzanine along the right side of the room. There is also seating behind the soundboard and at the bar. The tables are sort-of reserved; you reserve a spot in one of the sections of the room and then it's basically first-come first-seated within that section. Concert Going Partner and I opted for General Admission tickets because we thought it would be great to stand on the dance floor and get the energy of a standing venue for enjoying the concert. Only problem with this was all the folkies in the crowd stayed in their seats and it was nothing at all like the legendary Dance Tent at Falcoln Ridge. There were just a couple of songs that brought a few dancers onto the floor, and for the final song, "Alice In Space," some of the crowd got up on the dance floor with their umbrellas (it was a rainy night so quite a few people had them along).
Whether it was the fatigue of the third night in a row, or general disappointment with the small Sunday night crowd, or maybe just feeling that "Alice" was too perfect a final song to mess it up, the band left the stage and did not return for an encore.
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