Fire is Coming!
That fire seemed extinguished on a Sunday night in ’92. But the Neighborhoods return to Albany on Saturday (December 5) at Valentine’s Music Hall, not as step-slow veterans, but as an incendiary club device 17 years later still burning oh so bright! As founder-guitarist David Minehan said at the band’s 2004 induction into the Boston Music Hall of Fame, the ‘Hoods are a band “not without shortcomings, but with a desire and unique ability to burn white-hot in performance.”
The Neighborhoods became a fixture on the Albany scene, blazing a trail through the landscape of clubs now long gone – The Château, 288 Lark and QE2 – and the frat houses of RPI. The ‘Hoods took full advantage of the Capitol Region’s 4am closing time, playing three-set shows that not only garnered the band a loyal fan base, but also inspired a new crop of Albany musicians to take up the torch. No strangers to the local college airwaves, the ‘Hoods were literally WCDB’s mid-80s poster children. Much to ‘CDB’s credit you can currently hear ‘Hoods tracks from a recorded legacy that spans five albums and a legendary first single “Prettiest Girl.”
“Albany was always a welcoming outpost for the Hoods back in the day,” recalls bassist Lee Harrington. “Lots of great supportive fans, some truly generous club owners, some amazing, long, late night gigs and plenty of warm long-lasting friendships.” As for a personal Albany highlight, Lee says, “I will never forget the night that Robin Zander got up on stage and sang with us.”
Regarding his expectations for Saturday’s return to Albany, Lee says, “Coming back, we’re not sure what to expect. All these gigs recently have been an amazing mix of renewed rock energy and poignant memories, as we see old faces for the first time in many years … and then we rock them all!”
The ‘Hoods possess a certain chemistry that has always distinguished them from the pack. Like Paul Simonon of the Clash, one could not hope for a better bandmate than Lee Harrington. Lee’s in-the-moment stage banter is just as much a part of the band’s performance experience as the songs. Lee explains, “I suppose the genesis is my general dark and troubled Irish soul that seeks a cathartic release in the hurtful mocking of others. That and hours of Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons.”
The Neighborhoods continue to make history. Their latest recording “Parasite” can be played on the Guitar Hero II video game. January found them sharing the stage with their Boston contemporaries Mission of Burma. And last month the ‘Hoods took on the opening slot for the Joe Perry Project’s New England tour dates.
Harrington knows the keys to the success of the reunited ‘Hoods: “One word: Lynchy. He is the be all and end all of rock drummers and the soul and conscience of the rejuvenated Hoods. I dare say that without his amazing skills and single-minded commitment to preserving the legacy and powering the present, we’d have played some benefit gig ten years ago and never played again. He has been a God send for me and David.
“One other word: David Minehan. He is the real deal, a rock star in the truest sense of the word. They say you don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone (see Cinderella, “Don’t Know What You Got Until It’s Gone”), but I have to say that the chance to make music with David again, to share the stage with him, and to witness his awesome talents up close once again are all the motivation I need to drag my ass to Albany and points beyond.”
The Neighborhoods’ legacy now spans four decades. Still, the Valentine’s gig will mark the band’s first-ever at that storied venue. They don’t play a lot of shows, and Saturday’s Albany date is rare one-off. There may not be a next time. As Lee put it, “We hope our old fans in the Capital area dust off their XTC tees, and come out to hear the band in glorious, full throat.”
Written and photographed by Matt Mac Haffie