Think back: What’s the longest you’ve been involved with one single thing – a job, a relationship, whatever? Well, the Radiators have been doing their thing for 33 years. I don’t know about you, but the only thing I’ve done for that long is living! So it’s sort of understandable that these veterans of the New Orleans music scene would want to finally call it quits. What’s cool, though, is the band is currently giving their longtime fans one last chance for one last bash, and Albany’s “Fish Heads” (not to be confused with “Phish Heads”) were literally dancing in the aisles at The Egg.
Now, there’s no delicate way to say this: The miles definitely show. Compare the lead vocalist in that video we posted for “Suck the Head” with the pictures of the guy playing keyboards at the Swyer last Saturday night. That’s primary songwriter Ed Volker, who now looks like an Amish guy stuck in the best dream of his life – an image he reinforced when, after he busted us up with “Ace in the Hole”, he leaned down to one of the beautiful young women dancing near his instruments and said reproachfully, “You’re gonna end up in the hoosegow if you keep dancing like that!”
Then there’s second guitarist Camille Baudoin – I call him “second guitarist” because the Radiators have no lead guitarist; both Baudoin and frontman Dave Malone can shred it at will, and when was the last time you saw any band who could boast that element? Malone and Baudoin had a unison moment during “Last Getaway” that earned them a well-deserved standing ovation. But here’s the problem: Baudoin is one bad hair piece away from being a body double for Donald Rumsfeld! Of course, there are two things that make it impossible for Baudoin to be Rumsfeld: There’s no way Rummy owns a Hawaiian shirt, and you have to have a soul to play righteous slide guitar like Baudoin.
For his part, Malone was up front about the situation. “We’ve been doing this for 150,000 years,” he told us, causing much hilarity. “Right after we built Stonehenge, we started this band!”
So how do you stuff 33 years into one evening? Simple: You don’t. That means “hits” like “Confidential” don’t even make the set list, even if the crowd calls for it. All you can do is what you’ve been doing for over four decades, which is hit your audience smack in the face with two-hours-plus of full-bore, boogie-licious, Big Easy bar-band rock and roll that’ll get your mojo working even if you’re six feet under.
And that’s what the Radiators did, and then some! From the blues/rock/reggae opener “Love Grows on Ya” to the kickass final encore “They Got What They Wanted”, it was all fun, all the time. One couple brought their daughter (who had to still be in single-digits), and she was dancing with her mom during “Honey from the Bee.” Malone put some snarl into the Stones’ “Wild Horses,” where Mick Jagger could only manage a whisper, and Buffalo Springfield’s original version of “For What It’s Worth” was never as funky as the jammed-out treatment the Radiators nailed us with for their first encore.
It was nasty; it was analog; and I haven’t had that good a time in a long, long while. But that’s what the Radiators are all about, and we were really lucky to get one more taste before it all ends later this year.
Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Video by Dan Hogan
Greg Haymes’ review at The Times Union
Excerpt from Michael Hochanadel’s review at The Daily Gazette: “Hat’s off to the old pros. Here’s to the journeymen, the musicians who never get famous but keep playing, gig after gig, year after year, decade after decade. Though they never became stars, the Radiators showed how big a hole they leave in the pantheon of touring rock bands on Saturday at The Egg’s Swyer Theater. After 30 years and 4,500 shows, the New Orleans rockers are entitled to a long good-bye; and all those years and all those shows paid off in a two-hour feel-good fest. They were sharp as the Grateful Dead on a good night, though less adventurous; funky as Little Feat when both Lowell George and Richie Hayward were still alive — but with less interesting songs than either classic-rock crew. If lack of consistently first-class material kept the Radiators from becoming a successful recording act, ultimately, how they played was more important than what. And they played as well on Saturday as any band that’s ever knocked you out with sheer veteran skill and old-friends spirit.”