Kate and I drove to a friend's loft five blocks from the Boulder Theater and the three of us walked to the show. No pre show sighting of TR-i checking out the local turf. It was Fahrenheit 20's with icy spots on the ground. The theater crowd was initially very sparse, but filled in fairly well by the time The New Cars got going. Not a sellout though. Persephone's Bees were a decent opening act. They seem to be pitching a nice 80's sound, but performed at their truest when delivering some songs closer to the late 70's punk vein at the end of their set. This young band may have a future.
The New Cars opened with the effectively energetic one-two punch of "Hello Again" and "Let's Go." Todd was visibly in great spirits and would add amusing banter throughout the show. The band really appears to enjoy playing together. The two great guitars here delivered fabulously rocking editions of "Candy-O," "Dangerous Type" and "You're All I Got Tonight." Todd is far more of a presence on rhythm guitar than the tepid Ocasek ever cared to be. And playing primarily the rhythm role seemed to allow Todd more focus upon leading the band as a whole. This lineup works. And rocks. Prairie kept the beat and Greg Hawkes is an excellent and colorful Keyboard player. No Kasim this night though. Atom filled in competently with his bass playing. But I felt Kasim's lush background vocal was really missing at numerous points where the backing came up short. Todd sang the lead on both "Drive" and "All Mixed Up." The band performed every song mentioned in the earlier set lists. The audience was very receptive for all the material with some bopping and even dancing popping up throughout. I think Todd is starting to like Boulder, Colorado.
"I Saw The Light" was delivered like a sparking piece of candy, coming off with some freshness with the two guitars. The show bogged down a slight bit about two thirds of the way through with "Black Maria" and "More" though Todd's solo on "Black Maria" was absolutely blistering. The heads immediately in front of him were just staring at his playing just captivated. I too love that "It was excellent!" line in "More" but the song's delivery came off stiff, like it was indeed the new song in the set. The verse parts sound right off of _Panorama_ -- the Cars most guitar oriented album. While the chorus sounds like Utopia.
I was skeptical when they went into "Bang The Drum" but it garnered one of the most receptive responses from the audience. People knew it and were having fun with it along with the band which started on the cute little instruments and moved back to the heavy stuff to finish the song. The band closed the main set with "Not Tonight" which is everything a great pop song should be. Drilling down the layers I read the line "I'd like to call us a cab and take you out for a drink" as representing Todd's healthy aversion to owning a car. There's really a lot going on in that song.
The encore was the threesome of "You're All I Got Tonight," "Open My Eyes" and "Good Times Roll." Elliot took a long and sharply wicked guitar solo on YAIGT while Todd jumped up into Greg's 'wheel' and played beside him. The guitar RIF's of OME were definitive and gripping. The last half a dozen songs were the most crisp and well delivered making for a strong finish. Early on the vocals were sometimes muddy while they were getting the mix right. The band playing loud in a small venue contributed to this challenge. But I certainly wouldn't have asked them to turn it down.
This was about performance. Todd worked harder to front and deliver this New Cars show than he has in his solo and Utopia shows. And he did it with flare and spirit. The Cars material even provoked a couple new dance steps from Todd with the familiar old step finding its' way into the show at one point as well. Band and audience were there with an attitude for an evening of fun live music and that's exactly what this was. Walking back from the show amongst a few falling snow flakes we were passed by a long white limo. Thank you New Cars. Thank you Todd. For everything.
Somewhere near Golden, Colorado...
The Beloved Infidel,
Ed and Kate Grieze