LIVE: The Iguanas @ the Parish Public House, 1/21/15

January 30th, 2015, 2:00 pm by Greg

Review by Greg Haymes

On the calendar, Fat Tuesday is still more than two weeks away, but down in New Orleans the Mardi Gras season is already in full swing, and last week, the Iguanas brought some of that Crescent City spirit north to Albany’s Parish Public House.

Formerly Red Square, the downtown nightclub changed its name last July to reflect a more Louisiana-centric approach – from the decor to the menu. While the music offerings are still primarily focused on the jam band scene, the Public House is including more New Orleans soul and jazz, as well. The four-piece Iguanas – who have been together for more than 20 years – were a perfect fit, reflecting the veritable gumbo of the Big Easy’s musical styles.

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Opening with “Back in the Limelight Again” (“I’ve done my time/I’m gonna shine/Back in the limelight again”), the New Orleans veterans played solid and in the groove, as though they had nothing to prove to anyone. They went two-stepping through “Benny’s Cadillac” and fired up a second-line strut for “Late at Night,” leaving no doubt that their musical roots are anchored deep in the Louisiana bayou.

But the Iguanas have got a number of musical tricks up their collective sleeve, thanks in large part to the exceptionally versatile rhythm section of drummer Doug Garrison and bassist Rene Coman. The first part of their concert also featured a strong Tex-Mex leaning with vocalist Rod Hodges playing accordion and often singing in Spanish. When he switched to guitar, the dual-axe attack with Joe Cabral turned toward the country-esque ode to the power of radio, “Plastic Silver 9-Volt Heart,” as well as the down ‘n’ dirty blues of the nearly forgotten ’60s nugget by the Turtles, “Buzzsaw.”

And once Cabral switched to tenor saxophone, things really started to heat up with the bi-lingual garage rock of “Oye Isabel,” the ’60s vintage R&B smoldering instrumental “Love, Sucker,” the sizzling samba of “Angel,” the syncopation of Professor Longhair’s “In the Night” and the show-closing romp through “Para Donde Vas” with Cabral handling the lead vocals.

It’s difficult to pin down all of the deliciously diverse influences that the Iguanas weaved into their nearly two-hour show, but in the end it all boiled down to just one thing – having a good time. And they sure didn’t skimp on that…