Thursday, October 9, 2014

Rock Of The 80s Now In St. Charles


Tomorrow night, October 10th, The Arcada Theatre in St. Charles will field a dream team of bands that got their start in the late 1970s/early 1980s and remain masters of the catchy, guitar-driven rock song. The Smithereens, The Romantics, Tommy Tutone, and Marshall Crenshaw have all notched hit singles, so this show is guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser. I haven’t seen Marshall Crenshaw or Tommy Tutone perform live, but I have been to concerts by The Romantics and The Smithereens. Here’s what to expect, based on those previous gigs. 

Detroit natives The Romantics have three original members, and drummer Brad Elvis has been with the band since 2004. When I saw them at The House Of Blues in Chicago, guitarist-vocalist Mike Skill powered songs like “Stone Pony” and “Tomboy” and joined lead vocalist-guitarist Wally Palmar and bassist Rich Cole for some airtight harmonies. Starting with “When I Look In Your Eyes” from their 1979 self-titled debut, the closest The Romantics came to slowing down that night was on the seductive “Talking In Your Sleep.” Palmar is a charismatic singer who led the way on catchy songs like “Rock You Up” and a cover of The Kinks’ “She’s Got Everything.” The Romantics finished with a revved up version of “What I Like About You,” a song that still retains its considerable appeal after all these years.

The Smithereens hail from New Jersey but have been frequent visitors to Chicago over the years. Their set at The Roscoe Village Burger Fest proved that singer-guitarist Pat DiNizio, guitarist-vocalist Jim Babjak, and drummer-vocalist Dennis Diken maintain their regular guy appeal while excelling as musicians. Severo Jornacion, who replaced original bassist Mike Mesaros, is a force of energy who’s always up for a party. On that particular night, I was surprised they didn’t play more from the impressive 2011, their first album of original material since 1999. The Smithereens did perform gems like “Blood And Roses” and “In A Room Without A View.” “Time And Time Again” featured extensive jamming, and The Smithereens executed a perfect segue from “House We Used To Live In” into “Sparks” from The Who’s Tommy.

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