Several times each decade, a band like the Big Blue Hearts arrives: charismatic and engaging, familiar without being derivative, supported by crafty songwriting and bound by an honesty that projects from the stage to the last row of a venue. Big Blue Hearts and their frontman David Fisher arrive at a time when sincerity is being embraced in guitar-driven rock and, with the proper nurturing, the star-power sensed around this quartet should naturally blossom. In a 50-minute set that preceded Joe Walsh's 90-minute classic rock run-through, the Big Blue Hearts built on the foundation of their gentle and satisfying Geffen debut. The sharpness with which they work a well-trod path, particularly on the slightly upbeat "Nobody Wants Her" and "Live Without Your Love," will establish them as an original.
Tuesday’s set, which included two unrecorded numbers and the Everly Brothers’ “Bird Dog,” bumped up the tempo on a few of the recorded versions, Fisher improvised a mantra of pain, and even found a slight Caribbean lilt in a solo or two. That they ended on a mid-tempo note might not have won over the bulk of the crowd there to see Walsh. That they did it a cappella was a winning statement.
At the core of the Hearts’ sound is a comforting smoothness, backbeats and harmonies that date back to the Everlys, coupled with slightly twangy guitar that veers into jazz and rockabilly. The San Francisco-based quartet goes deep into the comfort zone of anyone who cherishes a rural essence within pop craftsmanship — their songs are loaded with images of love and longing, holding out hope and the lack of rapprochement in a relationship.
The Big Blue Hearts are likely to wind up opening a few weeks of shows for Walsh before winging overseas for two-week residencies in Madrid, Moscow and Paris. As assured as they have become since their club days up north, the overseas gigs can only help to solidify their impressive yet developing stage personality.