Mike Keneally Band
Bakin' @ The Potato! (DVD-V + CD)
I'm quite aware that describing the attitude of those who on September 15,
2010 impatiently waited for the Mike Keneally Band to go on stage at the
world-famous, highly celebrated L.A. club called The Baked Potato as being "less
impatient" than the way I felt wouldn't be right. But it has to be
noticed that on that night the intermission between the performance by
the Bryan Beller Band and the one that was about to follow (by an identical
lineup! - albeit with a different name, and a different repertory) was
about twenty minutes, not two months! (Which is exactly the time elapsed
between the first time I listened to Wednesday Night Live and the day I
found the Bakin' @ The Potato! package in my mailbox.)
I've already talked about the practical conditions that convinced those five
musicians (Mike Keneally: guitar, keyboard and vocals; Bryan Beller: bass
and vocals; Rick Musallam: guitar and vocals; Griff Peters: guitar; Joe
Travers: drums and vocals) that going on the road for a short tour with
a "twin group" ("They are both the same band") formula
was a viable proposition. And while I wrote a very favourable review of
the Wednesday Night Live CD, it's only now that I can favourably comment
on the DVD-V of the same name, from the same night, by the Bryan Beller
Band, which also offers a few extras and fine video interviews with the
Bakin' @ The Potato! features the complete concert, and two items: a CD (80')
and a DVD-V (105') featuring stereo audio, DTS 5.1 Surround and Dolby 5.1
Surround. There are also two band commentaries, whose audio layer runs
parallel to the video performance.
this night's concert, Keneally has carefully chosen tracks that appeared
on quite disparate albums in his long career, with a strong predilection
for an old album such as Boil That Dust Speck (eight tracks: Them Dolphins
Is Smart; 1988 Was A Million Years Ago; Yep, Them Dolphins Is Smart, Alright;
Bullys (sic); My Dilemma; Blameless (The Floating Face); Scotch; Natty
Trousers), and for a very recent one, Scambot 1 (five tracks: Hallmark,
Chee, Tomorrow, Cold Hands, Life's Too Small). Rounding the picture, there
are also tracks off The Mistakes (Career Politicians); Sluggo! (Potato,
Chatfield Manor); Nonkertompf (Click); Dancing (Pretty Enough For Girls,
immediately say that both formats are excellent, with a very clear, captivating
sound (talking about stereo, the only one I listened to). The video portion
is more "entertaining"; those close-ups of fingers and articulations
will be of great interest to those who are interested in this stuff, but
they won't make the concert a snooze-fest for those who don't share this
attitude. The CD is shorter, and it lacks those (vocal) transition moments
that in my opinion play a part in making one feel "there"; I
don't necessarily agree with a couple of selections, but I have no problem
whatsoever admitting that the CD as it is flows a lot better than the one
I wish for.
has to be noted that - though the repertory here is taken from many albums
of quite different vintage - the music is definitely "all of a piece",
all Keneally, with no song appearing as, say, naive, due to lack of maturity.
Keneally is in great vocal form, and here he intelligently features his
musicians' prodigious technical skills and uncommon versatility. As per
his usual, Beller is the excellent bass player who plays difficult stuff
with no sweat, the same being true of drummer Joe Travers, who's always
inventive and versatile. On guitar, Musallam has grown in maturity, and
he often surprises us with great solos. For the most part, here Griff Peters
acts as an ensemble player on both electric and acoustic, but he also has
a solo, performed with the usual finesse. On guitars and keyboard, Keneally
is... well, Keneally.
anticipate my conclusion, I'll say this work is perfectly suited to those
who are still interested in listening to "rock" as a genre in
a guise that's still contemporary, and not as fine ruins. Hoping that,
some day, we'll all be given the opportunity to watch this music performed
on a stage just in front of us.
is to be expected, Kedgeree has the flavour (and punch!) of prime-era The
Who, with keyboard, excellent bass parts, a great solo by Mike Keneally
over an arpeggiated carpet woven by Musallam and Peters.
(The Floating Face) is a ballad featuring the "Rhodes", Griff
Peters on acoustic.
Too Small has a lively start, then an arpeggio and those harmonics by Keneally,
a great solo by Rick Musallam, one by Keneally, then those vocal parts "à
la Gentle Giant" just like the studio version, then the
"obsessive" section with three electric guitars and tense vocals.
is a fine melodic ballad with an excellent development by Keneally on guitar,
and a very expressive final transition for "piano", electric
bass, and two guitars.
is a ballad sounding not too far from The Beatles with an excellent vocal
performance by Keneally, an instrumental coda that gets progressively faster,
per its usual, My Dilemma sounds "funky", joyous, contagious,
with fine solos by both Keneally and Musallam and a funky bass solo by
Beller with a funny wha-wha.
recorded with the help of some members of the Metropole Orkest, here Chee
is successfully arranged for rock group, with a fine melodic solo part
by Musallam and a great solo by Keneally, while Griff Peters plays single
notes that to me sound like his guitar gets processed through a (synth?)
we have a complex, intricate-sounding, "medley". As usual, Them
Dolphins Is Smart features the melodic, "swing", theme that's
impossible to forget; 1988 Was A Million Years Ago has a knotty development
and the very "Zappa-sounding" theme; Yep, Them Dolphins Is Smart,
Alright gets back to the theme, and to the "swing", "organ" solo;
there's a fine transition by Joe Travers, then it's Bullys (sic), with
a gigantic guitar solo by Keneally, who usually plays great on this track.
Enough For Girls features Griff Peters playing the intro melody, Keneally
on piano, a guitar solo by Musallam, then a Keneally solo.
instrumental Taster intelligently features the different timbres of the
three electric guitars, and it's maybe reminiscent of Zoot Allures.
Hands is the c&w ballad we all know and love, Keneally on acoustic,
Musallam on bottleneck.
and Scotch are punchy songs featuring more than a pinch of funky-metal
(especially the former) and crunchy rock.
Trousers is a "troubled" ballad featuring a fine vocal performance
by Keneally and a guitar solo by Musallam, while Peters appears to play
a... synth module? a modified echoplex?
joyous, majestic, Chatfield Manor features Keneally on 12 string electric
- with phasing? - three guitars playing harmony, two guitars featuring
bottleneck. Here Peters plays the solo, at first bottleneck, for an explosive
performance with fine, strong backing by Keneally and Musallam.
Politicians is the tense track originally recorded by The Mistakes, with
a fantastic guitar-piano unison by Keneally, who then plays an excellent
is (but of course...) the perfect song to wrap up a concert in a club named
like that. There's a sing-along à la Kinks (!), and a fine coda: first
it's a jig with tapping, then a solo, quite "boogie".
© Beppe Colli 2011
CloudsandClocks.net | June 20, 2011