by Ron Hromoko

the scene: a tiki bar with leopard skin stools and bamboo shooting upward at stage right. a platform framed with tiki-totem statues and oblong masks houses the band at stage left into center stage. palm frawns jut out from every piece of prop & stage hardware. old framed black & white and color photographs of liz taylor, elvis, and others adorn the bar & lounge areas. very hawaiian.

michele makes her way through the tables and stools seating patrons, taking drink orders, and cracking chewing gum. her slinky leopard zip-up, mini-bee-hive-doo, and costume jewelry fit the part.

the band takes the stage. from left to right: kas, prince, jesse & ferenzik. prince's kit is a host of bongos, cymbals, bells, and a few toms. they begin a familiar straight beat which quickly evolves into an instrumental version of 'caravan'. everybody's got on hawaiian shirts & sunglasses. no todd.

caravan finishes. the band accepts a healthy applause while starting 'i saw the light'. todd appears from the back of the framed tiki- platform wearing a gold suit, dark shirt and sunglasses. this is the same outfit as the tribute show in tokyo last august.

the BN arrangement is as the record. todd works out a banana-shaped shaker for the guitar solo.

'influenza' follows as on the record. todd orders a martini, then changes his mind to a gibson. michele obliges. todd establishes a lounge dialogue with the patron's sitting a few feet away on the stage. "lots of people from the bay area here tonight".

the band slows it down for 'can we still be friends?'. the BN shock is wearing off. todd is still wearing the matching jacket and shades.

'it wouldn't have made any difference' is upbeat and fun. everybody mumbles how this is their favorite from the new record. a different shaker get's a rigorous workout from TR-i.

a slow, latin flavor is applied for a superb arrangement of 'zen archer'. "pretty bird, closes its eyes," is drawn out, and todd has gesturing fun with the verse lyrics.

a schpiel on El Nino backfires as the obnoxious crowd repetitively screams it out for two-three more songs. this leads into 'fidelity'. i finally am able to focus on the vocals. kas does make a difference. and, todd can concentrate on range and dynamics when just singing and not playing other instruments.

'never never land' becomes a crowd favorite, ending quickly as on the record. who is that girl who always screams through this toon?

'love is the answer' is smooth and successful. the background vocals make this arrangement worthwhile live. kudos to ferenzik.

the first set ends with 'espresso'. michele dances with some on-stage patrons, and the band tries to show some restraint. no luck. we're all pumped!

after this first set, a real bad comedian in orange blazer and ruffled sleeves battles with the slim's crowd for twenty brutal minutes.


the second set opens with the band instrumentally backing up a ferenzik rap with the BN 'hello it's me' intro. no sign of todd. john speaks of someone rising up and becoming powerful throughout the islands, or some such. the rap culminates with ferenzik proclaiming this person to be 'the individualist'. the band begins playing 'the i' & todd appears in a sarong and a huge brown hawaiian mask covering the entire top half of his person. he's doing this egyptian walk, both arms spread forming right angles.

todd takes off the mask, is wearing the multicolored spaceman vest from the last slim's gig, and his face is marked up in a war-paint pattern [similar to the change myself video]. he performs 'the individualist' like the band tour of 1995, interacting with the patrons on stage and at the bar. this is good fun for all.

'real man' follows. the big band arrangement is similar to the NH/2W shows, and it sounds great! restrained just enough to clear things up.

'lost horizon' is a natural BN candidate. todd nails the lead vocal. all the percussion sounds come through clear along with kas' vocals. i thought this was the best song of the night, until we heard...

'eastern intrigue'. the crowd goes wild. this is performed very well. with kas doing background vocals and todd having illustrative fun with the lyrics, it's like a utopia show from BTTB!

an extended percussive intro develops into a driving 'can't stop running'. i get a NH flashback as todd dances and pumps his arms. same ending.

the full BN version of 'hello, it's me' ends the second set. michele makes a brief announcement about the band taking another "break".


the third set begins without warning. todd sits at the bar & talks to the bartender [a non-descipt crew member who seemed to be mixing real martinis and pina coladas all night]. a mic pics up some of todd's dialogue, but the crowd is ornery, shouting and yelling uncontrollably.

a female patron from the stage approaches the bar, and a rehearsed pass is made at her from an 'actor'. she throws a drink on him, and todd looks on, mildly concerned. ok. he then steps up on the performing platform and grabs the black acoustic for 'love of the common man'. for this and all toons from the first set, todd is sitting in a leopard stool. his outfit for this third set is a white and blue patterned hawaiian shirt with a black jacket, trousers, and those cool black chinese loafers from the early eighties. member...?

jesse returns for a fast-paced 'lucky guy'. acoustic guitar only with ferenzik on congas. ends as quickly as it starts.

then, before the next toon, todd and ferenzik go off on this tangent, improvising and singing this super-bluesy, lounge track to ferenzik's lone piano. it's 'america gets drunk and goes home' from frank zappa's 'absolutley free' record. i had to ask john about this non-rehearsed improv after the show to get the info. it was too cool.

scott matthews joins a full band for the next unexpected BN number. 'born to synthesize' is upbeat and jazzy. it sounds like queen's 'killer queen' as we all snap our fingers on 2 & 4. todd gets into it and extends the ending with some improv and a jazz jam. this is also, just too freakin cool.

the motown medly returns with mellow versions of 'i'm so proud' and 'baby baby'. the transition between was not smooth [first show]. a few non-patrons without stickies crash the stage and sit in the stools. michele tries to corral them off unsuccessfully for a few minutes. if you go to a show, don't do this.

'i want you' is exactly like the record. it sounds great with the kas/ferenzik harmony. michele hands the patrons tabs to close out their 'checks'.

the band is tired for 'a dream goes on forever' as it finishes the third and final set. todd leaves the lounge, jacket draped over his shoulder. the band continues to play the ending chorus for a while before stopping.

michele is cleaning the empty glasses and ashtrays off the tables. the band finishes and stops at the bar for a few minutes before fully exiting.

and, that was it. three sets and a lot of material. it started around 8:30 and went right up to 11:00, breaks included. it also was a real good performance for a first show. only one toon had to be started over. forget which one.

the crew member who was 'tending bar' came out a few minutes after the band finished, snuck back behind the bar, turned off the light, grabbed the pint of bushmills from the shelf, and was gone.