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.