Tuesday, August 7, 2012


photo by Maria Ives 
I can't believe it's been four years since I last saw the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.  That's way too long.  On a good night, they are one of the best live bands in the world, and last night was a very good night.

I wasn't really sure how packed Webster Hall would be: it wasn't that crowded last week for Helmet, and they're a New York band. But when we got to the venue, it was packed.  We missed the first band, but the second band, The Have Nots, were great.  I downloaded their song "The Years," and I'm probably going to check out some more of their music.

photo by Maria Ives 
But everyone was there to see the Bosstones, and the Bosstones didn't disappoint. Dickey Barrett, while not a "singer" as such, is a stone-cold entertainer, and a great frontman.  He doesn't just perform, he looks out for the crowd in a way that probably isn't too removed from the ethics of the hardcore punk rock scene that he came from.

Ben Carr - the "Bosstone" - he dances on stage and occasionally sings backing vocals - also keeps an eye out for the audience.  This is only worth mentioning because being at a Bosstones show is a frantic experience. There's a lot of energy in the room, with lots of slamdancing and (especially) crowd surfing. I have to give it up to the bouncers there, as well as the Bosstones' road manager, who showed a lot of patience with some overzealous and over-entitled crowd surfers.

photo by Maria Ives
But back to the music. The entire band is tight as hell, but I have to mention the horn section who are amazing.  Sax player Johnny Vegas has been with the band since the beginning, and sax player Kevin Lenear was with the band early on, quit in the 2000's, and rejoined a few years ago. One of their newer members is trombone player/singer Chris Rhodes (formerly of The Toasters), who is an amazing addition. These guys are, as Dickey says, "the best horn section in the world."

I kind of expected the band to stick to their 1989-2000 era, but, in fact, they played a lot of more recent material.  On paper, I would have thought it would have been a bad idea to do that. But the recent songs - "The Daylights" and "The Magic Of Youth" from last year's The Magic Of Youth, "Graffiti Worth Reading," "Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah" and "A Pretty Sad Excuse" from 2009's Pin Points And Gin Joints and two of my favorites, "Don't Worry Desmond Dekker" from 2007's Medium Rare and "Everybody's Better" from 2002's A Jackknife To A Swan.

Of course, the old songs made the crowd go ballistic: "Someday I Suppose," "Rascal King," "1-2-8," "Dr. D," "Devil's Night Out," "Hope I Never Lose My Wallet" were all incredible and the entire audience, men, women, white folks, black folks, knew every word. But the biggest moment of the show was when former guitarist Nate Albert (now a VP at Universal Music, I've heard) joined them for "Kinder Words."

Other than one near scuffle that I saw -- and one nasty head injury suffered by a guy crowd surfing (he turned out to be a Marine) -- no one seemed to get hurt and everyone had a blast.  I know that the Bosstones aren't a full time thing anymore, but it's just as well.  It gives a sense of occasion to every time they play.  I just hope it's an occasion I won't have to wait four more years for.

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