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The Flamin’ Groovies, The Kessler Theater, Dallas, Texas, May 4th, 2014, Reviewed

Flaming yes, Groovy not so fast

Flaming yes, Groovy not so fast

The Flamin’ Groovies and I have a few things in common. We both debuted in 1965 and I love the song “Shake Some Action” so much that I titled a book after it. The Groovies are often a leading exhibit in the “Bands That Should Have Been Huge, But Bombed” rock critic discussions. In the ‘60s, they were retro before retro was cool and in the ‘70s they straddled the fence between garage rock and power pop, even somewhat becoming synonymous with the latter genre. I was excited about seeing the band for the first time, but that excitement was tempered after hearing recent reports on their live performances and catching some online videos. The best thing about the show was my diminished expectations.

Chris Wilson won the bad taste in humor award for the year by starting the night stating that he was from Massachusetts, looking into the balcony, and commenting that he was worried about snipers. For the entire evening, he seemed like a man much more taken with himself than he deserved to be. Cyril Jordan looked like he wanted to be anywhere but on the stage. At one point, there was a five-minute delay due to a broken guitar string and the band said not one word to the audience. However, beyond attitude issues, there is a substantial, fundamental problem with the Groovies in 2014 – there are three singers in the band and none of them can sing. Wilson didn’t project over the sound of the band and Jordan and bassist George Alexander have no business singing at all.

It was an abbreviated set – approximately 45 minutes long (or, one minute for each member of the audience). Jordan even apologized for the weak performance prior to the encore. There were few highlights – the band sounded best on the bass hooked “Slow Death.” “Shake Some Action” sounded fine, despite some exaggerated choppiness in the chorus, but “Shake Some Action” is, for my money, of the most exciting songs ever released and should sound better than “fine.” Besides the poor singing and uninspired musicianship, the heavy-handed drum style of Victor Penalosa did the band no favors. The Flamin’ Groovies deserve all of the critical accolades that the received in the ‘60s and ’70s for Supersnazz, Teenage Head, and Shake Some Action, but when this show was terminated early, it was a mercy killing.

Grade – C-

Setlist:

Yeah My Baby

Tallahassee Lassie (Freddie Cannon cover)

I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better (Byrds cover)

Yes I Am

I Want You Back (NRBQ cover)

Don’t You Lie To Me (Chuck Berry cover)

Married Woman (Frankie Lee Sims cover)

Between the Lines

Slow Death

Shake Some Action

Encore:

Teenage Head

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