Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
British rocker John Waite’s new release, “Rough & Tumble,” has put him back in the spotlight and headlining a nation-wide tour, including a recent concert stop at the fabulous Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.
A seasoned veteran of the music business, Waite was a founding member of the late-’70s cult band, the Babys, before pursuing a solo career in the early ’80s and scoring a U.S. number 1 hit on the Billboard charts with the MTV favorite, “Missing You.” In the late ’80s, he formed the rock group Bad English, which charted with, “When I See You Smile.” By the mid-’90s, Waite was back in the driver’s seat with his solo career again, releasing several solo projects and climbing up the charts with his power ballad, “How Did I Get By With Out You.”
On stage at the Troy Saving Bank Music Hall earlier this month, Waite was wearing a smile and an electric guitar slung over his shoulder as he tuned up to present an uninterrupted set of songs spanning the highlights of his long rock career.
Earlier in the afternoon, it was decided that because of the Music Hall’s superb and fragile acoustics, Waite’s drummer Rhondo would leave his drum kit in the van and improvise a percussive set-up that included a wooden beat-box and a tambourine taped to his left foot. Guitarist Shaun Hague put his electric axe back in the case and picked up his acoustic six-string, while bassist Tim Hogan turned down (way down) the volume knob on his electric bass amp.
So when the music started, it was in balance and perfect for a more-or-less “unplugged” rock concert taking place in a performance hall that is more than 100-years-old and built for unamplified symphonic and chamber music presentations.
The small but ardent audience situated itself in the rows of seats directly in front of the bandstand. And if you had trusted your ears with the volume-level of the enthusiastic applause after every tune, you’d think it was a packed house.
Waite and his band dished up an engaging and energetic set of songs that seamlessly combined the new material with the old. The electro-acoustic instrumentation and Waite’s vocals gelled magnificently with the Music Hall’s sublime acoustics. And those in attendance seemed satisfied that they had seen a legendary performer put on a great concert.
If there were any criticisms to be leveled against the band, no one had said a word in the lobby after the show. However, a few members of the audience commented that they wished Waite had come back out for an encore because the fans in attendance had stirred up a storm of applause, cheers and shouts hoping to call him back for, at least, one more.
Maybe Waite has been out of the spotlight for too long now to know that it’s par for the course at all rock concerts these days for the star to come out for an encore – regardless of how few people come to see the show.