December 8, 2008

The Radiators: 30 Years of Jams and Loving It

City Limits
Delray Beach, Fl
November 28-29, 2008

The best thing about going to see the Radiators play live is that you are guaranteed to be shakin' your stuff from start to finish. In the 27 years I've been catching the band, never once have I been disappointed. Tell me -what other band can you say that about? And like fine wine, the Radiators keep getting better as time goes on. For those who witnessed the shows last weekend at City Limits in Delray Beach, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

City Limits is more and more becoming the venue of choice for those of us up in the 561. And why not - the place is chill. There's plenty of room to dance, the sound is excellent, staff is friendly, and it's a step away from Downtown Delray, where there is always something to do before and after showtime. The floor is more or less wide open, with a couple of cocktail tables scattered towards the back. Upstairs there are couches to relax on, and 2 bars which are easily accessible. Nice setup. Comfortable. But we don't go see this band for 'comfort', so let's get right to it.

The Radiators are Ed Volker (organ, vocals), Dave Malone (guitar/lead vocals), Camile Baudoin (guitar/backing vocals), Reggie Scanlan (bass) and Frank Bua (drums). They serve up a smorgasbord of musical styles including, but not limited to - Blues, R&B, Funk, Soul, Swing, Zydeco, Cajun, Jazz and, of course, Rock 'n' Roll. We would have the good fortune of experience all these genres over the course of these 2 magical nights.

Friday Night
First set highlights: 'River Run' thru 'Give Me a Rainbow', with Dylan's 'You Aint Going Nowhere' and 'Daniel in the Lions Den' sounding especially sweet. I love Volker's playing and vocals on 'Lion's Den'. And you could tell they were just getting warmed up, with each passing song offering a little more improvisation and energy than the one before it. With 'Wild and Free' and The Dead's 'Morning Dew' closing out the set, we got a taste of what was to come. The 'Dew' really showcased what Camile and Dave bring to the table, trading licks as if they were baseball cards, back and forth, louder and stronger, with each passing verse. Camile couldn't bend his strings any more than he did, often glancing over at Dave, challenging him to take it further as the jam moved forward. The crescendo was huge, and the crowd seemed more than satisfied as the set came to a close. Nicely done!

Second set opened a little quiet with 'Dreaming Out Loud', a nice, melodic tune from their same-titled record, but you could tell the audience was ready, really ready, to shake their collective asses. Good thing is, we wouldn't have to wait long. Creedence Clearwater's 'Green River' came next, and just like that, the show took off - and mean OFF!! Segueing nicely into 'Blue Monkey' then 'Bitch', the band was firing on all cylanders. Volker's vocals were hypnotic, Frank's drumming consistently brilliant, and Reggie's bass lines were making me very happy. Probably my favorite part of the show was the melody beginning with Lucinda', segueing nicely into the 'Theme from the Magnificent Seven', and finally right into The Meters' Sissy Strut' - that was worth the price of admission itself. Frank's playing really stood out during 'Lucinda', with the rest of the band following suit as they moved through 'Seven', with a nasty, balls-to-the wall jam during 'Sissy Strut'. Must be a NOLA thing - that tune rips! A rockin' 'Fishead Man' closed out the set nicely, with The Impressions' People Get Ready' and the jam-laden 'Rosie' offered as encores. One down, one to go.

Saturday Night
For some reason expectations are always much higher for a Saturday night show, as bands always want to leave the city they're playing with a lasting impression and the fans want that same impression to last long after the show has ended. With 'One Monkey Don't Stop No Show' and 'Every Dog's Got Its Day' opening up the set, the band returned to its roots and got the crowd into it from the first note they played. Reggie's bass on 'Dog' was loud, much louder than the previous night, as we could feel the floor vibrating next to the speaker. Dave and Camile's leads were just screaming, and the band, as a whole, seemed much more animated than the previous night.

After a beautiful rendidtion of 'Ooh La La', they picked it up with a couple of my favorite tunes: 'Where Was You At', 'Ace in the Hole', and 'Stealin' a Feelin'. Is there a better "feel-good" song than 'Ace'? For some reason, you just want to dance you ass off when they break that out - quintessential Rads!! The set closer was off the chain, as they went all out with a 9 minute medley: You Can't Take It With You When You Go>There's Something Fishy Goin'On>Go to New Orleans>Land of 1000 Dances>Can't Take It With You When You Go. Again, back to their roots, showing why they've lasted for as long as they have. Good stuff!

Wars' Low Rider opened up the 2nd set, and there were nothing but smiles all around. Frank set the beat, and the boys galdly followed suit and delivered the funk. It was nice to hear Peter Musso on the harmonica, as he really added alot to the jam. Again, the band seemed highly animated as they moved through the song, with Camile bending every which way as he layed down the nastiest riffs of the weekend. Man, can he play guitar or what?

Other highlights: The Talking Heads 'Burning Down the House', 'Total Evaporation' and the rockin' trilogy of Looka Py Py>Jump into the Fire> Looka Py Py . 'House' got everybody into the mix, even the people who were there by accident. And as Ed's keys led into 'Like Dreamers Do', it felt like we had come full circle, the band and the crowd, united as one, feeling pretty good about one another, that we both had a purpose coming in to the weekend and we both accomplished what we set out to. Then Dave started to sing, and we lost ourselves in all that is the Radiators. One of their most recognized songs, 'Dreamers' always puts everyone in a great mood - it's just one of those tunes...and the band took it as far as they could, naturally.

After exiting briefly, they came back out and did 'Blackjack >Got to Find Somebody to Treat Me Right', which was downright nasty, followed by Muddy Waters' Got My Mojo Workin'. A perfect ending to an incredible weekend.

Both nights featured not only exceptional musicianship, but also showed the band to be really enjoying themselves as performers. And with their recent release of "Wild and Free", they show no signs of slowing down, even after 30 years of hardcore touring. Amazing? Sure. But not surprising, as we've come to expect the unexpected throughout this long journey the band has taken us on. And the best thing is, there's is no end in sight - only beginnings.

It was Frank's birthday Saturday, so "Happy Birthday, Frank", and thanks to the rest of the band for two great nights of exceptional music and good times. And with Monkeyball just around the corner, S. Florida should be counting its blessings. We'll see you in January. Until then...

Stream and download the first night

Stream and download the second night

Video of Low Rider from Saturday night

The Radiators Official Website
The Radiators on My Space

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