Two delightfully idiosyncratic singer-songwriters from opposite sides of the globe have joined forces to make music that’s even a bit more left of center than what they do individually.
Having flown over from their home in France, the husband and wife duo of Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby stepped up to the microphones at Valentine’s Music Hall on Tuesday night to kick off their U.S. tour. There were no more than two dozen people in the audience.
As they sang later in the evening during “Here Comes My Ship”: “It’s such a shame.”
And it probably would have been enough to make any sane folks jump right back on a plane and go home. Not these two, however…
And so they launched their show with a straight-up reading of the old Jackie DeShannon pop nugget, “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” Rigby wearing her heart on her sleeve as she sang. Eric took over the lead vocal duties for an equally un-ironic take on Tom Petty’s “Walls.”
Joking about their status as senior members of the rock world, Rigby leaned into the microphone and said, “Grandpa Eric, tell us about the good days.” And he was off… rolling through one sometimes long-winded but always hilarious story after another throughout the rest of the evening.
Eric and Amy probably could have spent the entire night doing story-telling and stand-up comedy without complaint from the crowd, but their music was equally engaging. Rigby switched around between guitar and keyboards, while Eric alternated between guitar and bass. Every once in a while they’d press the “play” button on what had to be the world’s cheesiest drum machine to conjure up a pre-set rhythm section as accompaniment – “teen beat” for Rigby’s pop gem “Please Be Nice to Her” and “British rock beat” for “Do You Remember That?,” Rigby’s autobiographical tale of the couple’s courtship.
As they concluded that one, Rigby glanced over at her partner and exclaimed, “We were almost professional by the end of that!” Almost… but that’s what was so endearing about their show. It was lo-fi and as scruffy as can be, but so plain-spokenly honest – from the free-jazz freakout of “Teflon Wok” to Rigby’s rap during “Here Comes My Ship” to Eric’s semi-bi-lingual romp through “Reconnez Cherie” (which he rather accurately described as “‘Save the Last Dance for Me’ crossed with the b-side of Englebert Humperdinck’s ‘The Last Waltz’ done Cajun style”).
Of course, they served up their best known songs – Eric’s classic Stiff Records new wave anthem “Whole Wide World” and Amy’s geek-girl punk-rock crush ode “Dancing With Joey Ramone” – but they both put forth better efforts over the course of the evening. Eric hit the highpoint of the evening with a solemn, knock-out rendition of the Who’s “Endless Wire,” and Rigby soared with her edgy, but determined “Like Rasputin.”
Michael Eck’s review at The Times Union
Photographs by Jason Lehr and Al Goldberg
WRECKLESS ERIC & AMY RIGBY SET LIST
Put a Little Love in Your Heart (Jackie DeShannon)
Walls (Tom Petty)
Another Drive-In Saturday
Please Be Nice to Her
I Get Out of Breath (P.F. Sloan)
Endless Wire (The Who)
Here Comes My Ship
Walking on the Surface of the Moon
Do You Remember That?
Whole Wide World
Dancing With Joey Ramone