Teen idols who try to be taken seriously in their adulthood are in for a long, hard haul; they are expected to be forever young and beautiful, able to roll out insipid balladry of their past, and expected to play every last gig even if it means the state fair circuit. It’s a difficult and possibly miserable fate, one that Leif Garrett has chosen to avoid by taking another route in rebuilding his career.
The one-time heartthrob’s profile has been raised by a VH1 “Behind the Music” segment, which revealed the one-time blond, slender and adorable skateboarder to be a bearded redhead with a proclivity for Axl Rose headgear, a bit of a spread, a spaced-out demeanor and recent drug problems (highlighted by Garrett allowing a film crew to show him entering a detox facility). He has become quite a curiosity.
Opening his set with a torrid, Black Crowes-y midtempo rock song called “Are You Satisfied?” (familiar to “Behind the Music” viewers from the segment’s final credits), Garrett and his group, Godspeed, seemed tight and punchy, and easily able to hold their own with whatever H.O.R.D.E. tour refugees are doing.
Instead of filling his sets with puppy-love nostalgia, Garrett included covers of the Kinks’ “Lola,” in which he came in on the wrong beat and forgot a verse, and the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses,” which will never sound fresh after years of classic-rock radio, no matter who sings it.
And after the lackluster “Lola,” they returned to form with a slice of psychedelia called “Borrowed Time” that ”borrowed” its changes from the It’s a Beautiful Day number “White Bird.” Like that song, Godspeed’s version devolved into a long jam, but guitarist Ted Silbert and bassist Clackers held their own as they stretched out the tune, a task they were called upon to perform three times during the seven-song set.
One of the tunes, “Wish,” actually has alt-rock hit possibility, with its Creed-Alice in Chains-like drone and Garrett’s impassioned howl. A few more of these and he may come back after all.