Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on

18Jun/114

Setlist: A great night in Akron with The Smithereens, 6/17/11

The Tangier provided an odd, but ultimately satisfying venue to watch the Smithereens play their first Cleveland area gig in quite a while. What was the last one? Was it the gig at the Rock Hall, playing as the headliner on an afternoon of band battles hosted by Guitar Center? Or was it their summertime gig at Nautica, playing (I think) Taste of Cleveland? Either way, it's been close to ten years since the band has graced our city with their presence, and their return was welcome and long overdue.

The incredible core of the Smithereens - singer Pat DiNizio, guitarist Jim Babjak and drummer Dennis Diken, remains intact with newer recruit Severo "The Thrilla" Jornacion holding down the bass duties these days since original bassist Mike Mesaros retired several years ago. And after 31 years of playing shows, The Smithereens remain as one of the best live bands you'll see on the circuit, delivering a show that's worth every penny and then some....and in my case, worth the drive to Akron.

The band returned to Ohio armed for the first time in 10 years with new music, courtesy of their new Don Dixon-produced opus '2011.' The new material seems to have added quite a bit of vigor to the band's performance of songs both old and new, punching the attack on the older songs up a couple of extra notches. New songs like 'One Look At You' (a Babjak song that already feels classic), 'Keep on Running' and 'Sorry' are a nice heads up to anyone in the concert audience that the Smithereens do indeed have a new album and it is most certainly worth hearing. But in a brief pre-concert survey by radio DJ Jim Chenot, a show of hands demonstrated that quite a few in the audience already had '2011,' so the 'Reens came on stage to a house full of fans that were well aware and ready.

Although Babjak's guitar was missing in action in the sound mix for the first couple of songs, they thankfully quickly got the mix in line and this Akron Smithereens performance was everything that you'd want it to be, with a setlist that covered most of the bases. As far as the venue, once you get past the supper club feel of sitting in the audience watching a Smithereens show, which just feels weird, it actually ended up being a nice room for the show.

I've said this before in several different forms, but there's nothing quite like watching the Smithereens do their thing. Witness Babjak's seemingly effortless guitar playing, the equally impressive Diken on the drums, who as DiNizio notes, is a "great rock and roll drummer" and the new energy from 'The Thrilla,' who ably fills the big shoes of his predecessor. DiNizio leads this rock and roll bunch and every time I see them, I always think about how they shouldn't still be this good. But they are.

And what is that all about? I think it's pretty simple, really. The Smithereens came up at a time when they learned from their idols like the Beatles and the Who that it was all about being able to play live. The Smithereens are a great live band and Friday night's show was once again proof that the passage of time can't take that away. With a new album to promote, chances are good that the 'Reens will be coming to your city sometime soon and my friends, that's a rock and roll trip that's well worth taking.

Behind The Wall of Sleep
Top of the Pops
Miles from Nowhere
One Look At You
Room Without a View
Only a Memory
Since You Went Away
Drown In My Own Tears
Blue Period
Cut Flowers
Keep On Running
House That We Used To Live In / Sparks (The Who)
Time and Time Again
Blood and Roses
A Girl Like You (snippet of Get Together) into Behind Blue Eyes

Encore:

Sorry
Batman Theme

  • ferris

    1) “Batman.” Nice. 25 years later, the Smithereens are still ripping off Voivod [the metal band who used to play “Batman” during encores].

    2) “Wait till Pat DinNizio sees us! He loves us!… PAT! MY MAN!”

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