Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Bowie Would Be Proud Of These Sons


Photo from Chris Connelly’s Facebook page.

As the nine members of the David Bowie tribute band Sons Of The Silent Age strolled onto the stage at Durtie Nellie’s in Palatine this past Saturday night, they brought loads of playing experience with them. Named after a song on Bowie’s Heroes album, the band was formed by vocalist Chris Connelly (known for his work with Ministry and Revolting Cocks) and drummer Matt Walker (from Smashing Pumpkins and Filter). Their first gig, which included Shirley Manson from Garbage, was a benefit at Metro to help the Pablove Foundation continue its cancer research.

Manson’s involvement was more as a guest artist, but the other musicians stayed and all have impressive resumes. The Sons Of The Silent Age lineup has quickly become extremely sharp and cohesive. The set began with an extended and haunting intro to “Space Oddity” before bursting into a full, atmospheric arrangement. It was immediately evident that Sons Of The Silent Age were about to summon the amazing world of David Bowie to the Durty Nellie’s stage.

Connelly consistently nailed Bowie’s distinctive delivery, from the soulful crooning of “Stay” to the down and dirty “Diamond Dogs.” Saxophone player-vocalist Rich Parenti and vocalist Claire Massey (formerly with The Tami Show) provided expertly timed backup vocals. Connelly doesn’t go in for a lot of makeup or elaborate costumes, but projects the aura of a classy, yet cutting-edge rock star.

The rhythm section of Walker, percussionist Marcus Johnson, and bassist Alan Berliant created a powerful funk groove on “Golden Years” and “Fame,” while Parenti’s sax playing sparked “Modern Love” and “Young Americans.” Carolyn Engelman’s eerie synthesizer on “Ashes To Ashes” was hypnotic, and guitarist Steve Gerlach (from The Bad Examples and Tomorrow The Moon) and electric/acoustic guitarist Robert Byrnes frequently propelled songs into the stratosphere. Virtually all the musicians joined in the singing at some point. After closing with a manic “Suffragette City,” Sons Of The Silent Age were called back by an enthusiastic audience that had been dancing all night. The band obliged by playing sterling versions of “Changes” and “Heroes.”

The opening act at Durty Nellie’s was The Locals, a hard-hitting trio that veers between punk and hard rock. Singer-guitarist Yvonne Doll, who also has a solo career, unleashed some powerful vocals and strumming as she led the band through songs from its Salt CD, as well as from an upcoming release. 

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