Lisa Loeb is petite and cute and sings ‘I do, I do’ as if she had never left the 90’s. She hasn’t changed much, just look at her perfect face, and she is very talkative, bubbly, dialoguing with the crowd, and looking adorable in her red summer dress and signature glasses. She was doing a solo acoustic rock set on Wednesday night, opening for the Spin Doctors during one of these Summer Concerts at the Grove.
What do I know about Lisa Loeb, songwriter of the 90s? She had this hit song ‘Stay (I Missed You)’ and was famous for her quirky pair of glasses, right? It’s about it and she sure looked at ease on stage singing her catchy songs, but if she passes the cuteness test, is she a serious songwriter? May be, she has a good voice and hooky choruses but when she starts singing about a disappointing pancake – she wrote kids songs inspired by summer camp experience – she sort of lost me, although the kid on my left, sitting on his father’s shoulders, was having a great time… And a gay couple behind me was extremely talkative although they were constantly shouting their love for her. She also made the crowd sing along and clap and if I have never been a fan of performers begging for crowd participation, people seem to have a very good time.
She was playing alone with her acoustic guitar, songs from her ‘No Fairy Tale’ album, and her most requested hit, ‘Stay’, then a song, ‘3,2,1, Let Go’, that she wrote for the movie ‘Helicopter mom’ and that immediately grasped the crowd… is she one of these moms? I bet, she told us she was shopping for her kids this afternoon. So beside recording albums for children, she seems to be a soundtrack treasure, and she may be no Liz Phair or Alanis Morissette, but you don’t see these 90’s women rocking the Grove anyway!
Spin Doctors followed Lisa Loeb to continue with the 90’s theme of the night, and I had basically no real opinion about the New York Rock band, they are one of these acts that has been around for a long time, like Blues Travelers, with which they have close ties, but I have never really paid attention to them. Still, they put on a lively show with a lot of leg kicking by frontman and vocalist Chris Barron, who sure looked in excellent shape despite his gray hair and beard, looking like a more acrobatic version of Michael Stipe, thin and athletic, even making a cartwheel on stage!
Overall, they basically sounded very bluesy for many songs, although they have never been a blues band, more a pseudo-hippie-jam-oriented-alt-rock-blues band, but in any case they started with a very funky James Brown-esque guitar lick number, ‘What Time Is It?’ and stayed in the funk for a little while.
It’s difficult to exactly point out why I didn’t expect too much from the Spin Doctors, but I didn’t understand why they were so seriously bluesy suddenly, because all I remember about them were their famous hit songs, such as ‘Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong’ which, of course was received like a dance party by people at the Grove. Same story during their other famous song ‘Two Princes’, ‘which allowed them to never have to take another of these bad jobs’ as Barron said, a song which brought back a lot of memories I am sure… isn’t this song part of the soundtrack of every adolescent-theme movie of the 90’s? It was massive in 1992 and I’d like to know one person on earth who doesn’t know this song? But I can’t blame a band for having a successful hit, I just blame them for having two faces: on one side they are the poster child of the 90’s alt-rock, with a few cheesy earworms stuck in your head for at least a week to the point to become annoying, on the other side, they want to be a blues band, jamming on classic bluesy tunes, that they abundantly recorded for their latest 2013 record ‘If the River Was Whiskey’. All the recent songs had effectively a very bluesy structure, with guitar solos stretching for such a long time that Chris Barron had time to point to Eric Schenkman’s guitar or to lean on Mark White’s shoulder for a few minutes, catching his breath and insisting on his band mates’ prowess… There was a lot of ‘Spin Doctors, We are Spin Doctors’ all concert-long.
People were appreciating both sounds, but the Spin Doctors will never been known as a blues band despite all their efforts to be one, and a good one I should say, as these guys can play. No, they will ever been known for their most familiar sound, an hybrid amalgam of funk, rock, blues, interpreted by Barron as a bouncy aerobic soundtrack, with occasional exotic chunks, like African music once it has been safely regurgitated by a Dave Matthews band, another 90’s band; it’s mall-ready, but the Grove is a mall after all.
What Time Is It?
Nice Talking to Me
Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong
Turn It Upside Down
Some Other Man Instead
If the River was Whiskey
Jimmy Olsen’s Blues
Freeway of the Plains
Off My Line
Lady Kerosene (Includes Bass/Drum solo)
Scotch and Water Blues
an old school New York feel
oedipal vulnerable and blue collar visceral
An emotional song with Miya’s acrobatic and vulnerable vocals
Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – May 1973 (Volume 4, Number 12)
From Robert Johnson to the Ramones – what a life!
one of the great top tens of the 2020
will mark their return to the road in early February, 2023 with a string of to-be-announced US arena dates
enjoyable and soulful romp
another full day of music
his weakest album to date
hoedown, snappy , country slappy