LIVE: The Security Project @ the Van Dyck, 11/11/17
Review by Mark Alexander Hudson
Photographs by Rudy Lu, Stan Johnson
The Security Project is an interesting concept. Consisting of drummer Jerry Marotta, Warr guitarist Trey Gunn, guitarist Michael Cozzi, keyboardist David Jameson and vocalist Happy Rhodes, they are a Peter Gabriel tribute band with a difference.
For starters, their first of two shows at Schenectady’s Van Dyck on Saturday night consisted of Gabriel songs from just his third and fourth solo albums only (1980’s Peter Gabriel and 1982’s Security – hence the name of the band). Also, Marotta was the drummer on most of the tracks on those original albums back in the day.
Those two albums were the ones immediately preceding Gabriel’s commercial breakthrough juggernaut So – you remember “Sledgehammer” and that video, right? They are eclectic, disturbing and brilliant, full of edgy hard rock, mournful mantras, thunderous drums, experiments with world music and electronics and Gabriel’s yearning cathartic vocals.
Unfortunately, for me at least, the actual execution of the Security Project on Saturday failed to convey the drama and intensity inherent in the music. The problem was two-fold. The band, perhaps influenced by the dinner jazz club ambience of the venue, seemed unwilling to cut loose. Their playing, while perfectly adequate, seemed restrained and a little too polite.
Also the vocals of Happy Rhodes did not transmit the emotion and energy of the material. For example, songs like “No Self Control” and “I Don’t Remember” have a psychotic ferocity on the original recordings. Rhodes’ wan vocal delivery rendered them more as bouncy pop songs. She frequently utilized the lower register of her impressive range, but occasionally strayed off pitch. She seemed a lot more comfortable channeling Kate Bush in that singer’s fragile “Mother Stands for Comfort.”
The show opened promisingly with ominous versions of a pair of tracks from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, the concept album that proved to be Gabriel’s swansong with the band Genesis. It would have been interesting to hear the Project tackle more of this idiosyncratic rock opera, but the rest of the set stuck to the solo material with the exception of the lone Kate Bush track.
The set was well received by the crowd, who obviously did not share my misgivings. As it was, the evening inspired me to revisit the source material for the first time in years and remind myself of Gabriel’s singular talent.
THE SECURITY PROJECT SET LIST
Fly on a Windshield
Broadway Melody of 1974
I Have the Touch
No Self Control
The Family and the Fishing Net
Mother Stands for Comfort
Games Without Frontiers
Lead a Normal Life
I Don’t Remember
Lay Your Hands on Me
The Rhythm of the Heat