Review and photographs by Kirsten Ferguson
“It’s really fun touring now as a troubadour. I just have a bag and a guitar,” said Richard Barone onstage during a rare Capital Region solo appearance at Valentine’s Music Hall last month. Barone, who came up from New York City by bus for the show, was the frontman of early ‘80s new-wave band the Bongos, who were at the center of the era’s thriving Hoboken, New Jersey, indie-rock scene.
Music fans recently got the sad news that Maxwell’s, Hoboken’s long-running and beloved rock club, will close in July. Barone’s band “A,” a precursor to the Bongos featuring three of its original members, will play the club’s closing night, as they were the first band to play there when it opened in the late ‘70s.
At Valentine’s, that news was not yet publically known, and Barone’s set leaned more toward his solo work than it did toward a retrospective of the Bongos’ dance-driven, avant guitar-pop. The fraught chamber-pop ballad ‘Tangled in Your Web” and the self-affirming “I Belong to Me” hailed from Barone’s debut solo album, Cool Blue Halo, which turned 25-years-old last year and was feted with a 25th anniversary concert by Barone in New York City that was recorded and released as a three-disc CD/DVD.
Barone – who teaches stage presence at NYU and has a full stable of dramatic stage moves down – also showcased an unreleased Bongos track, “My Wildest Dreams” – which may soon be seeing its long-overdue release – and a song recently written for the Occupy Wall Street movement, “Hey, Can I Sleep on Your Futon?,” which was a modern revisiting of the Depression-era tune, “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”
At the end of the night, openers Blue Factory joined Barone onstage – and despite little chance to practice beforehand, they sounded great together on the Bongos’ classics “Barbarella” and “Glow in the Dark,” as well as a muscular, string-popping cover of David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust.”
The Poestenkill trio of guitarist Jim Crawley, drummer Joe Crawley and bassist Jim Temple are gearing up to release their third CD in the fall – their follow-up to last year’s Primates, Drunks and Cowboys on Kranepool Records – and the band spent much of their opening set on brand-new tunes they had never played live before, including working-class anthem “So Far Gone” and “California,” a cool song referencing the California water wars of the 1920s.
NOTE: Richard Barone has been booked for a return to Valentine’s Music Hall on Saturday, September 28. Opening the show at 8pm will be Two Cats in Suits, the new acoustic duo featuring the Last Conspirators’ Tim Livingston and Nick Bisanz.
BLUE FACTORY SET LIST
Light Passes Through Her
They’re Drinking Wine Again
A False Sense of Something
So Far Gone
There’s a Job to Be Done