The vibe at the Spin Doctors/Wallflowers show was one of peace ‘n’ love ‘n’ rock ‘n’ roll. Funny thing is, most of the youthful, neo-’60s fans dancing in the aisles weren’t even born when Woodstock was busy expanding the consciousness of their parents.
But the throwback kids have Epic Records’ the Spin Doctors, a good-time band for the bad-time ’90s, four easy-to-like musicians who purvey a lively, often compelling brand of quirky, sometimes funky pop rock.
The Doctors’ Epic debut, “Pocket Full of Kryptonite,” released about seven months ago, has lately been zooming up the charts on the wings of a fast-rising single, “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong.” If this show is any indication, this is the beginning of a solid career.
Led by the low-key, loose-limbed exuberance of singer Chris Barron, the New York-born Spin Doctors romped through a set of bright, amusing, intelligent songs, including the pointed, infectious “What Time Is It” and the danceable “Jimmy Olsen’s Blues.”
Other songs benefited from the very funky bass stylings courtesy of Mark White, which laid a firm foundation for Barron’s light, often Sting-like vocal inflections.
Overall, the Doctors’ set was strong, though the last third was a bit too jam-oriented, and consequently some of the crowd cleared out early, though the encore of “Shinbone Alley/Hard to Resist” was worth the wait.
If the Spin Doctors are reminiscent but not exactly “of” days gone by, Virgin Records’ the Wallflowers hit the ’60s nail on the head. They at least come by their lineage honestly–lead vocalist-guitarist Jakob Dylan is the progeny of Bob, and it shows, in both his strong songwriting and his vocal approach.
The band is just that–reminiscent of THE Band–a mellow, jam-oriented blend of piano/organ, guitars and a ’60s feel–purveyed by, you guessed it, guys in their early 20s.
Live, they’re pleasing but distinctly lacking in dynamics. In fact, the Wallflowers lived up to their name–hanging back, making no attempt at audience rapport. It might work for Eric Clapton, but with a young band the result was a distinct lack of excitement.
This made for a rather linear, one-dimensional show, which was not helped by the fact that their songs in this short set were very much of a kind.
Still, there was at least one standout song in “Ashes to Ashes,” a cut off the Wallflowers’ just-released Virgin debut, and the band members are obviously talented players and writers. For now, however, these Wallflowers need time to grow.