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The Normal Living At Fontana, Saturday, February 9th, 2013, Reviewed

The Normal Living claim girl groups of the 1960s as a major influence and given lead singer Liza Zitelli's tender and tough singing Saturday night at Fontana's, you might feel free to guess  that the Ronnie Spector sound alike is the reason why. But when the band has songs like "Timeout New York" and "Deadend Rock" in their repertoire, I don't see what else they can sound like.

In a thoroughly enjoyable 30 minute romp New Jersey transplants The Normal Life previewed their EP Less Radio, and threw in three covers for good measure to a thoroughly pleased audience filled with supporters and supporters for a good reason. The Normal Life are a great band, it is like some weird form of alchemy: you watch em with a smile fixed on your face and Liza belts out song after song, back up singer and sister Anna Zitelli joins in, and on a remarkable take on the overplayed "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" harmonize beautifully together.

At first all you can do is watch the bundle of energy Liza but after awhile you notice guitarist Jon Grabowski. An iffy "The Last Time" is transported by Jon's decision to play the famous Keith Richards lick ALL THE WAY THROUGH IT. Such a great idea it makes the cover a true interpretation. Better still is the original (and single) "Deadend Rock", despite it opening the EP it didn't grab me at first but on stage it is a tall tale and the one time their affection for Bruce Springsteen really comes through. 

The EP is very good but the production is a little light, these songs deserve a wall of sound. But on stage, the Normal Living's enthusiasm gets them through. The songs sound as though they've just stepped out of  Martin Scorceses "Mean Streets"; it is perfect snapshot of a New York City (one song is called "Penn Street") but I don't know if it is a real New York City. It is a monochromatic snapshot brought to vivid color. "The beat goes on and on…"  Liza sings and the words seem to have a built in sadness to them, they are all shading.

There were a few missteps, "Charlotte Arms" slows down the set directly after "The Last Time", Liza needs to work on her patter, and she needs to work on her stage movement a little, though to be fair there wasn't much room. The keyboard player should be brought in full time.

Still the band is tight without being slick, the rhythm section a good one and the sound as memorable as the songs they sing.  Imagine if Ronnie Spector covered "She's The One" -there's  the vibe. That good? I have to admit it, the Normal Living is that good. 

Grade: B+

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