Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
The party was on, despite the fact that Fitz & the Tantrums – the first 2014 Alive at Five concert – were shuffled off to the rain location at the Corning Preserve Boat Launch – unquestionably the worst concert venue in all of Nippertown.
Led by co-frontpersons Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs, the Los Angeles-based six-piece band dished up an undeniably catchy, hook-filled, 72-minute show of soul-inflected dance-pop, injected with influences that ranged from Motown to new wave synth-pop. They’re an intriguing, sort of yin-yang couple on stage. Fitzpatrick has a geeky, slightly stiff presence on stage – even when he’s cutting loose – that is reminiscent of David Byrne’s early days in Talking Heads. And despite Fitzpatrick’s “name above the title,” Scaggs stole the show, not only with her soulful vocals, but also with the wild abandon of her tambourine playing and her charismatic, hyper-kinetic stage presence.
A relatively young band – at least by by Alive at Five standards – F&T not surprisingly focused squarely on their latest album, More Than Just a Dream, which was release just over a year ago. In fact, of the dozen songs on the album, they performed all but one of them, highlighted by the slow burn of “House On Fire,” “Out of My League” (accompanied by an Amtrak train rolling down the rails in the background) and “Last Raindrop,” the lone ballad of the show.
The large crowd obediently waved their hands for “6AM,” clapped in time for “L.O.V.” and sang along for their extended cover of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).”
Kudos to the band, too – especially keyboardist James King, who also kept the bottom end thumping on the baritone sax throughout the evening and wailed on a couple of tenor sax solos, most notably on the set-closer, “L.O.V.”
They wrapped it up with a pair of slam-bang crowd-pleasers – the Motown-ish “MoneyGrabber” (punctuated with a canon volley of confetti) and their big breakthrough, “The Walker,” with its whistled earworm hook.
Tennessee-based indie rockers the Features opened the show with a solid performance – highlighted by “This Disorder” and the more subdued “With Every Beat,” as well as some intriguing new selections.
NOTE: Alive at Five returns to its regular site, Jennings Landing in Albany’s Corning Preserve, for Week No. 2 with Reggae Night at 5pm today (Thursday, June 19) featuring the Easy Star All-Stars and John Brown’s Body. Admission is FREE…
FITZ & THE TANTRUMS SET LIST
Don’t Gotta Work It Out
Break the Walls
Breakin’ the Chains of Love
Keepin’ Our Eyes Out
Merry Go Round
Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) (Eurythmics)
Out of My League
House On Fire
Tell Me What Ya Here For