Dan in Boston
Snap, Cracker and pop at the Paradise
by Sarah Rodman
Monday, March 11, 2002
Cracker, at the Paradise, Saturday night.
It was two, two bands for the price of one at the Paradise on Saturday night.
In addition to a superb, almost two-hour set by headliners Cracker - one of the smartest and most satisfying bands to emerge in the '90s - the audience was treated to a clutch of tunes by Cracker frontman David Lowery's former band, Camper Van Beethoven - one of the most eclectic and beloved cult bands to emerge in the '80s.
What made it special was that original CVB bandmates Victor Krummenacher, Greg Lisher and Jonathan Segal were in the house to join in on the fun. The trio - plus some friends - opened the show with tunes from their post-CVB careers.
That meant in addition to '90s alt radio staples like Cracker's ``Low'' and ``Eurotrash Girl,'' fans were treated to '80s college radio staples like ``Pictures of Matchstick Men'' and ``Eye of Fatima'' as well. The bonus was not lost on the very appreciative sold-out crowd who sang along with songs both popular and obscure.
Of course, radio is no longer Cracker's friend. Lowery lamented that the band's terrific new album ``Forever'' is being ignored, but the band proved its worthiness by playing a handful of its tunes including dreamy, shambling opener ``Brides of Neptune,'' the willowy ``Guarded by Monkeys'' and the hilariously improvised hip-hop roots rock closer ``What You're Missing.''
Other highlights included the snappy, Stones-y white-boy funk of ``Waiting For Your Girl,'' the charmingly bitchy ``Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now)'' and the full-frontal rocker ``100 Flower Power Maximum.'' Guitarist Johnny Hickman was spot-on all night with his biting yet lyrical guitar solos, adding tasteful zing to every tune and taking the mike for the broke-down, Band-esque ``Wedding Day.''
The rest of Cracker easily pulled its weight as keyboardist Ken Margolis, a Northampton native, spiced things up with chiming organ and flavorful accordian flourishes, bassist Brandy Wood contributed soulful harmony vocals and drummer Frank Funaro kept things crackling. Particularly great Cracker-CVB ensemble efforts included the swampy ``Eye of Fatima,'' a spirited ``Low'' and the old-timey gypsy feel of encores ``Dr. Bernice'' and ``Tania.''
It was a great night for music fans who embrace the concept of one band exploring everything from psychedelia to roots rock to country to pop.
Back to top
Victor and friends opened, with special guest "Neil from England," on bass and keyboards. Neil was a mysterious-yet-familiar looking figure, with a long dark mop of "hair" under a cowboy hat. He resembled a rick star familiar to everyone on this list. In fact, if I hadn't heard about how the CVB guys and David Lowery totally hate each other, I would swear that it really was David Lowery wearing a wig. ;-)
The openers were VK on guitar and bass, Greg Lisher on guitar, Jonathan Segel on violin and guitar, the aforementioned "Neil" on bass and keyboards and Frank Funaro on drums. Most songs were Victor's, but Greg and Jonathan did some lead vocals, too. Johnny came out and played guitar and sang on the "Little Blue Fish" song, which I had never heard before but really liked.
After a break, Cracker came on and opened with 3 songs from the new album. They played for over 2 hours, counting encores, and played at least these songs, plus others that I can't remember right now:
Brides of Neptune Shine Guarded by Monkeys Eurotrash Girl One Fine Day Teen Angst Wedding Day Happy Birthday to Me Waiting for you Girl Pictures of Matchstick Men Low What You're Missing-- not a song I like, but was much better live than on CD, especially with Jonathan's Japanese rapping. mid-show set with the CVB guys, Johnny on mandolin: Eye of Fatima Waka First encore: Kenny on accordion, Johnny on mando: Dr. Bernice/Tania Get off this Second encore: Sweet Thistle Pie Big DipperOverall, a great show. Brandy is totally hot, um... I mean, really fun to watch, with great stage presence. David was quite low key, while Johnny did a lot of mugging and playing to the crowd. I would have liked to hear a little more CVB stuff, but can't complain, especially when we got Big Dipper and Dr. Bernice. Everyone from both bands was on and off stage, with differing lineups playing each song, except for Frank, who played the whole time. David was out there pretty much the entire time, too. (yeah, that really was him wearing a wig in the opening set.)
Dan in Boston
Back to top