LIVE: Start Making Sense @ Jillian’s, 2/18/11

“The name of this song is ‘Drugs,'” declared Jon Braun in his best dead-pan David Byrne imitation.

The crowd – an amazingly strange mix of old Talking Heads fans, post-Dead hippies and the usual out-for-a-night-of-alcoholic-revelry Pearl Street regulars – roared back their approval.

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After making their Nippertown debut last August at the Bella Terra Festival in Stephentown, the Bethlehem, PA-based Talking Heads tribute band Start Making Sense returned to town for a night of their own last Friday at Jillian’s in Albany. And they made quite an impressive showing. The seven-piece band wasn’t a hey-we’re-pretending-to-be-the-Talking Heads tribute act. In fact, they were much more like a hey-isn’t-the-Talking Heads’-music-great-and-aren’t-we-having-fun kind of band.

Braun’s got a good voice, and, yes, he milked the quirky Byrne-like delivery for all it was worth. But the real secret to the Heads’ music is in the groove, and Start Making Sense dug a deliciously deep groove – whether they were pumping out the jittery, minimalist new wave of “Psycho Killer,” the percolating African-influenced rhythms of “The Great Curve” or the litling “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody).” Along with drummer Jesse Braun and percussionist Steve Brunette, bassist Bill Melcher anchored much of the sound, rising to the fore with an especially soul-poppin’ bassline on “Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town.”

As a tribute band, naturally they didn’t offer much in the way of surprises, but they managed to raise a few chuckles when they veered off into a chorus of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” in the middle of the art school-damaged punk-funk of “The Book I Read.”

Who knows? By the time the band’s tour brings them back to town, maybe Jerry Harrison will be sitting in with them?

SECOND OPINIONS:
KC Orcutt’s review at JamForums.com

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