July 13th, 1995--Ping Pong Room

Okay, we got another in this endless stream of SU live performances . . . Tonight's concert in the SAC Ping Pong room didn't seem like anything spectacular, but it did represent another example of SU's constant increase in talent and accompanying alienation of their fans.

Here's what they played:

Zappa-style steel pan song
Things Fall Apart
some song without any words
You'll Be Alone When I Throw You In Jail
Heart of Glass
A Fairy Tale
Hello, Mr. Bicyclist!
Ladybug Picnic
some Eric Clapton style song
Wax Man

pretty much in that order . . . this was the debut for many of these songs so I don't know if they were good representations or not . . . they all seemed fairly strong and generally well played. The first few songs, however, were remarkably lackluster, especially the steel pan version of Things Fall Apart. (The steel pan was, incidentally, played by Radford. He seemed to have been playing a riff written by Benedetti though, which I think may have been the problem . . . it simply sucked.) Jail wasn't bad, but the vocals, as in the past, were difficult to discern. The problem this time, though, is that the other instruments were actually so loud. I couldn't really tell which one was making all the noise . . . as I listened for each instrument, each sounded like it was being drowned out by the noise . . .

Heart of Glass was amazingly consistent with the earlier live performance. I am beginning to think this may be one of their best songs, and, for my money, definitely their best cover. Fairy Tale was the same story from the album, but read by Radford. I think I prefer Villani's reading, but the two were remarkably similar. The background effects were quite different, and much more ``renal.'' They acheived a sort of techno/whale song effect using a sythesizer that fit quite well with the song. Next were a few more new songs . . . they weren't that bad. I don't know if these are one-time affairs or if they are intended for the next album . . .

Finally, they played a very good version of Wax Man . . . not quite as good as the last concert's, but very close. This consistence between concerts is probably the most obvious side-effect of the band's growing talent. Also, I simply can't say enough about the positive effects of Dunn's clarinet and Radford's throbbing, driving rhythm. These two new things seem to be what this previously very good song was waiting for to become a very great song. Could the new, enhanced Wax Man possibly surpass Lobster at SU's second best song? Could it even unseat the glory of Horse In a Smelter?

maybe . . .

Alan McConchie
Independent Music Critic extraordinaire
July 13, 1995

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