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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2 Responses to A Geordie in Hoboken

  1. deano says:

    Fleshtones remain the quintessential old school bar band. And that is fine by me too. A beer, a shot and the rock.

    As far as Mr. Burdon, I saw him play in another dive over in Westwood NJ, sometime back around ’90 (Classics Cafe. shout outs to anyone who knows Matty & Tony!). At that time, he was mainly concerned with burnin’ herb in the alley out back. ‘Spill Wine’ was fun though, probably because of said fire-breaks. I’m jus’ sayin…

  2. Linus says:

    The Fleshtones are truly the long-haul troopers of New York music. No matter how dreadful the gig, they always shrug it off and figure they might as well have fun with it; and of course they shine in the great moments as well.

    Back in, can it really be 1980? Yikes. Anyway, when Martha and the Muffins were touring with Echo Beach they came to New York for a couple of shows in 1980. I loved the song, dug the band, and saw both dates, one at The Ritz (the old Ritz, now Webster Hall) and one in the St. George Theatre (?) in Staten Island.

    Presumably, in those pre-Internet days, the band had no idea that Staten Island wasn’t really New York. They were from Toronto, after all. How would they know?

    The Ritz show was full, and the Staten Island show, hmm, there might maybe have been a minyan, but it would be close. Certainly no more than 15 or 20 people. M&M were pissed. The Fleshtones opened and got out on the high stage, took a look at the crowd, shrugged, and after a couple of numbers asked us to help them move their gear onto the floor (the venue was an old movie palace, splendid, with the seats out). They set everything up, taped everything down, and picked up where they were in the set, with us dancing around them. A terrific memory.

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