Note to tribute bands: give the people what they want. Play the songs they know and love. Don’t introduce a song by saying, “Caution: deep cut!” And don’t, under any circumstances, play a single album in its entirety.
But that’s just what happened last weekend when I went to see “Boston’s Best Tribute Bands” at Johnny D’s. Here was the lineup:
Sister Lovers (Big Star)
Melt (Peter Gabriel)
Clock Strikes Ten (Cheap Trick)
Rock Bottom (70s classic rock)
The Sister Lovers set was entertaining, although I’ve never heard of the band Big Star, so can’t say if Sister Lovers did their music justice.
And then the trouble began. Melt took the stage and the crowd got ready to hear some of Peter Gabriel’s hits – “Big Time,” “In Your Eyes,” “Solsbury Hill,” “Mercy Street.” Heck, we would have even taken “Shock the Monkey.”
Instead, the band’s front man announced that they would be playing the 1980 album “Peter Gabriel 3” – in its entirety. As Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl has said, bands that play albums in their entirety are “presumptuous and lazy.”
A woman sitting near us echoed Grohl’s sentiments by repeatedly yelling “Sledgehamma!” in a Boston accent throughout Melt’s performance.
We suffered through (we did get to hear “Biko”) and then Clock Strikes Ten took the stage. Lo and behold, this band was fronted by the same lead singer as Melt. Again, they skipped “The Flame” and “Dream Police.” Finally, they played “I Want You to Want Me.”
I managed to stay at the show through Rock Bottom, who performed a great set that featured “Slow Ride.” But by the time LoveSexy came on, it was 10:45. I lasted for three songs and stumbled home in the snow, without having heard “Purple Rain.”
Note to self: live music is a young woman’s game. It’s hard to see five bands in one night when your usual bedtime is 9:30.
Up next...Rhode Island's finest: John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band.