pittsburgh-the urbano groove

Review by Tony Rogers (Switch to

it dawned on me how old i was at this show.

ive been doing these little reviews for a while now and it seems like its gone on forever....just like the dream...but it is a dream...the friends, faces-some of which i see regularly and have for decades from all corners...this one was pretty special-i confess to have only heard a partial from the woefully underbootlegged last years west coast tour, so i dont have any recent comparisons from then except a partial opening night gig in santa cruz......

most of all, i was curious as to how the band would sound with drummer #3 for 2007, bourgeous tagg's nearly human's michael urbano..but i was not ready for what i saw. and its all good as they say.

first of all, the crowd went apeshit for a lot of the night and reacted with more energy than i had seen in years...there were no sludgey parts..even though tr said "we bring you new steel" at the onset, my reference point was the moratta hard as a rock metronome like rock solid whap..or pps hard hittng polyrhythmic almost zapp-esque give and play with the time - like liquid...

........but here comes michael urbano and lays down the most wicked airy/jazzy understated beats you could imagine..like willie in his prime..there was a reminder of now and then how he could fill, but it was groove baby..and a slightly behind the beat lean just gave the music wings..and dynamics---what a range displayed on no1 lowest (light dancey touch in the verses) , tiny demons....yes there were a few mistakes, missed accents, etc but the groove laid down was magical..it lifted all of these songs with a brightness not felt for a while...i watched tr smile several times as everything just rolled along nicely, calmly..not spastic at all but nice round rolling rhythym.

..i also thought kasim with his voice really boosts the backgrounds even though MU did not sing. - he is much better for the whole of the sound than TL, no slight against him, but really you ant compare......and kasims playing this night was spot on super..he added several melodic runs/lines in drive and mammon as well as fascist christ which with urbano was soul groove city....you know the more i think about it, he lays kind of like kenny arrndorf beat or a better version of hall and oates new drummer...

..... you would have to be a fool not to notice that the crowd reaction was boosted and played by urbano..no rock star pose at all, just a player, a workman like performance...- i watched him listen to tr in hawking and he was lost in trance..he had the emotional control of the crowd with his dynamic and musically sympathethic . i was surpirsed he could play that hard at times but he just sounded hard-he has a lighter touch than the other 2 and that is a good thing and used to good effect.

im sorry ive gone on so much about it..i just didnt expect this kind of energy

...i didnt think i would say this but i think urbano is best for this band of the 3. look, i love PP-he is one of my alltime faves on drums and JM, i also worship-especially on recorded work..but theres something about this wiley guy that gives this band a more youthful edge in all phases and tunes they played...

jesse as usual just did his thing, tr had a gtr on all tunes, even hawking this time out..he was clearly enjoying himself in excess of what an 59 yr old has a right to-he was animated on the one note solo in drive..pointed to both his 11 shirt and foamy as the great equalizer in no 1...it was just great..his gtr was on, could hear him pretty well and he took lots of chances--funny that the interplay between him and pp usually makes his solos kind of fz-like but it is the space and emphasis on groove that was like a big breath for everything.it made it so open highway and clear.his voice was fine but got some rasp in drive but what the hell, always changing inflections, just paced perfectly.he was singing just fine friends.....

jesse also did a bit more of the slide sound than he did in the spring. kas did alt between his 5 string and 4 string..and kaz was just was a star this night..there was a second he got pissed at tr for making a quip onstage but the scene was good...house was packed...kaz and MU really locked in good....

i would recomend anyone to check these shows with MU - i hope we get to see a lot more of him cause he really has kicked the band in the ass-there is energy flying all over the place and todd has never played gtr better. there was a point in 2003 when tr did this solo set and honed it to perfection for a few tours-much the same as the way utopia did the same in their 1978-9 marathon touring days...thats exactly whats up with this setlist that debuted in canada in 2006.....only good things will follow..hats off to a near 60 yr old man who blew my ears out..it was loud as hell folks ...be prepared.....11 it is. let it ring!

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12/07/2007 - The Rex Theater - Pittsburgh, PA

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