A Geordie in Hoboken

First the good news:
- Boom Boom
- Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
- San Franciscan Nights
- When I Was Young
- We Gotta Get Out Of This Place
- Hey Bo Diddley/Not Fade Away
- It’s My Life
- Little Queenie
- House Of The Rising Sun

Now the bad news:
At the Hoboken Art and Music Festival last Sunday afternoon, Eric Burdon fucked up every single one of them. Every single one. Now, lest you think that, maybe, this was just a matter of an aging singer having gone over the hill and being unable to reproduce faithfully the hits of yesteryear, let me add immediately that the two new songs, Once Upon A Time and Over the Border were good. Perhaps not splendid nor magnificent, but solid songs well done, that demonstrated if need be that Eric Burdon, without a doubt, still has it.

Why then that travesty of a “Tom Jones in Atlantic City” performance on all the classics? The weird pronunciation (“Cadellac” anyone?), the forced stutter (“aga-ga-ga-gain”, “n-n-n-n-n-night”), the microphone thrust again and again into the crowd for a sing-along, the plodding reggae beat on “Don’t let Me Be Misunderstood” and the plodding beat –period– on “Hey Bo Diddley“? Isn’t the Bo Diddley Beat part of Drumming 101 anymore? The rest of the band did leave the stage during the drum solo, though… Hmm…

Yet, so much was right. The magnificent bass lines were mostly well preserved, and the voice –even though it has lost some of its snarl– was mostly spot-on when not being wasted on gratuitous oddities. So, what did go wrong? I can only surmise that Eric Burdon is in fact utterly sick and tired of his old catalog and can’t stand the thought of having to go through yet another one of those “oldies nights,” since the new songs do sound good and sincere, while all the “hits” careen out of control and end up invariably wrecked on the wayside.

Most heartfelt shout from the audience: “More new stuff!” You don’t hear that at a Bruce Springsteen or a Rolling Stones show, do you?

And our thanks to the Fleshtones for not just going through the motions and giving us instead a rousing performance, worthy of the dimmest dive in Greenpoint, Brooklyn!

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