In my opinion, Watts is a Boston band not to be missed. My most recent favorite description of their sound is Psychedelic Furs’ vocalist Richard Butler singing with the catchiest of Tom Petty-style rock. The result makes it hard to pinpoint which aspect of Watts is more memorable: Dan Kopko’s vocal melodies or John Blout’s guitar lines.
It’s been said in one of my previous reviews that I’m a huge fan of Watts drummer John Lynch (also the drummer for the Dirty Truckers). For my full opinion on his musicianship, check out the Dirty Truckers review, also found on Playground Boston.
I’ll just say that Lynch continues in this project to provide the same solid drumming and tasteful dynamics that I’ve come to expect, but this time in a smaller venue demanding a lot from a band so easily tailored to great loud Rock’n'Roll. In any case, the band didn’t disappoint in their command of the sound and stage alike.
Show highlights include some of their songs from their full-length album, One Below the All Time Low, my favorites being “Everybody Here Wants You,” as well as the title track. However, they played a few new songs in the set, so I’m pleased to know that we might have another great album from this smash-hit, solid and fun, rock outfit.
Onto The Gentlemen… This is my second Mike Gent show, and I must say that you really never know what to expect from any of his bands. Listeners can definitely expect more than a couple of extended jams, but without the usual lulls in most jam-heavy projects. The Gentlemen is clearly made up of seasoned and established musicians with an intimidating familiarity with each others’ body language, style of set-ups, and possibly even the very thoughts that go through each others’ heads.
Drummer Pete Caldes seems to give no more than a series of blinks to launch the band out of a low-level, soul groove into a Yes-influenced, raucous freakout, while Gent’s guitars change from thick chords in a verse to a contrasting, picked-out section. But somehow with the guitars getting more intricate and less punchy, each chorus in every song still pulls up to drive into your ears in the catchiest way possible.
But let’s not forget stage banter. During one of the quieter moments in a breakdown, Gent, in his best Curtis Mayfield alto voice, sings “Does anybody have an aspirin?…..or two?….” He also has no problem singing for any other of his various needs from the stage, such as another guitar cable or another cocktail. The truth is he’s got to do it that way- the band played non-stop great pop songs for over two hours straight – there’s not much time to gather your thoughts or refill your vodka tonic. But these boys never seem anything other than comfortable to be on that stage all night.
Case in point: Someone shouts — someone always shouts– “Free Bird!!” Bassist Ed Valauskas, without missing a beat, calmly fires back, “That’s a tremendous idea…. Very original, too.”
“Here’s another original idea: Ed’s going to sing this next one,” Gent adds. What followed was, to me, somewhat unexpectedly, the stand-out track of the night.
Anyone with a favorite song by The Gentlemen will most likely hear it – during their set they seemed to go through their entire catalog! With all of the musicians in this group having numerous other projects, it’s a shame that we Bostonians don’t see a whole lot more of them.
Thanks to Nicole Tammaro for the photos – www.nicoletammaro.com