Mike Gent (left) and Pete Donnelly (photos by Kirsten Ferguson)
Former hometown heroes the Figgs – well, they’re still our heroes, but they’re not really hometowners anymore – dished up some of the tastiest rock & roll that we heard last year with stops at Valentine’s Music Hall and Putnam Den in celebration of their 25th anniversary. Now it looks like they’re trying a different tact for 2013 – with the bandmembers rolling into town one at a time.
On both nights the first set was just the trio (including songs from the latest album and other more recent material) and the second set with Guy Lyons (heavy on Couldn’t Get High and other albums of that era).
Two holiday songs:
On Friday night: “Merry Christmas, Girl” (which Jed Parish of the Gravel Pit wrote as a joke to imitate a Figgs song, and then the Figgs covered on their Christmas single from long ago
On Saturday night: “(Sucking on a) Holiday Treat” by the Gravel Pit
Two nights MIA:
No “Father Christmas” this year – maybe it’s the line about wanting a machine gun to scare the kids on the street? Just speculating…
Rock and roll is not complicated. Its force and majesty is all about the simple. Some of the best songs are just short, everyday phrases, repeated twice or three times. The Figgs are such masters of this craft that they made your correspondent and the 75 or so other party hounds at Valentine’s Music Hall in Albany last Friday night forget about everything happening outside its walls (as well as whatever was going on upstairs?)
The Figgs – Nippertown post-punk power-pop expats – grab the spotlight for a pair of homecoming holiday shows this weekend. And like their 25th anniversary concerts this past August, the power trio of Mike Gent, Pete Donnelly and Pete Hayes will be joined by former Figgs drummer Guy Lyons on guitar.
Tonight’s show (Friday, December 21) takes place at 8:30pm at Valentine’s Music Hall in Albany. Then they’ll do it all over again at 9pm on Saturday (December 22) at Putnam Den in Saratoga Springs.
Depending on how old you might be – or just how much of the Capital Region music scene you’ve soaked up over how many years – you could probably make a decent argument for maybe a dozen local bands who have trotted the boards at countless Nippertown nightclub stages to claim the title of the All-Time Best…
Fear of Strangers
The Kamikaze Hearts
The Grey Things
Those were just the ones that popped off the top of my head… and not in any order of importance. (We’re not trying to manufacture one of those created-for-the-sake-of-controversy best-of lists that, say, Rolling Stone likes to whip up just to piss off debate-hungry fans. (But OK, now that I’m dwelling on it a bit, I might also add some of my personal favorites – like the Dronez, Sgt. Dunbar & the Hobo Banned, Home – into the mix.)
But if I had only one vote, I’d lay down all my chips down on the Figgs.
“Stevie Ray Vaughan’s ‘Couldn’t Stand the Weather.’ I was in seventh grade. It’s all weathered and beat up, but I still have it.”
Guy Lyons reunites with his old bandmates the Figgs as the band celebrates its 25th anniversary with a pair of hometown shows this weekend. They’ll hit Valentine’s Music Hall in Albany at 9pm on Friday (August 17). Tix are $10. And they’ll follow up with a stop at Putnam Den in Saratoga Springs at 10pm on Saturday (August 18), with Skeletons in the Piano opening the show. Tix are $10.
Review and photos by Kirsten Ferguson. See more of Kirsten’s photos from this show here.
We can’t wait for August, when the Figgs play two back-to-back shows in the area to celebrate their 25 years as a band and their killer new double album, “The Day Gravity Stopped.” They’ll be at Valentine’s in Albany on Friday, August 17 and then the next night (Saturday, August 18) at Putnam Den in their hometown of Saratoga Springs.
But back in April, the Figgs played a special show at Valentine’s with their long-time collaborator Graham Parker (a line-up bolstered by multi-instrumentalist Scott Janovitz), the first night in a short tour with the rock-and-roll statesman, who has a new Graham Parker & the Rumour reunion album recorded for future release.
“The first single that I bought – and this is a pretty strange one – was ‘Some Kind of Fun’ by Chris Montez. How about that? That’s pretty strange. It was a minor hit in England, but I was knocked out by this vibrant organ thing. That was the first record that I actually bought. I don’t know what year that was. When the hell was that? Was that pre-Beatles and Stones? I think it probably was.