Last night I caught a killer American Babies show at Mercury Lounge here in NYC. The show was one of four official record release parties for their new album Flawed Logic, which I mentioned in a previous post (and included a full stream of the album and their new video for “Dance All Night’).
The night started with Tommy’s latest incarnation of the Babies doing a nice mix of tunes from their last two records as well as last year’s Weight of the World EP. They kicked things off with the twangy “Dance All Night” and tore through a bombastic “Joeline,” providing an early highlight of the night. Lyrically, their new material — with its desperate characters, lost lovers, and drunken sinners — taps into the Johnny Cash-style of classic American country and blues, pushing Tommy’s songwriting approach further along the spectrum of Americana. Another highlight of the night was “Streets of Brooklyn,” one of Tommy’s strongest new tunes, featuring the locally appropriate lyrical references — “wolves of Wall Street” and “under-loved kids with vintage guitars” (Williamsburg hipsters?) — along with a beautiful progression from “streets of Brooklyn” to the “streets in Heaven.” The new tunes mixed nicely with the themes of older standouts like “Invite Your Friends,” “Brooklyn Bridge” and “Babe, Don’t Cry.”
Although the main point of the show was to celebrate the new record, they seriously kicked up the energy at the end of the second set with some fun covers, including a near note-perfect take on the second half of the Beatles legendary Abbey Road. In standard Babies fashion, the show featured a rotating cast of characters, including Joe Russo — fresh from his recent stint with the Dead — sitting in on drums for about half of the show, and later, Dave Dreiwitz (of Ween) on bass. For the Beatles medley, Dreiwitz joined the band with a bass that was appropriately styled in the vein of Paul McCartney’s old-school Hofner. From the opening notes of “You Never Give me your Money,” it was clear that the band was having a total blast. Once they proceeded onto the mellow psychedelia of “Sun King,” we all knew we were in for a serious treat — the entire eight-song suite from the Beatles 1969 classic.
I was able to nab a couple videos from the Beatles medley, including “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” and a decent snippet from “The End” (below). The entire segment had the crowd raging and singing along to every word, thus providing a killer end to a great set.
“She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” (Beatles cover):
“The End” (Beatles cover)
After the Beatles suite, the band re-emerged from the side of the stage for an encore, busting out their new-ish rocker “Winter War Games,” and putting a nice cap on top of an all-around great performance:
“Winter War Games” encore
Check out the full photo set here.
American Babies play their fourth record release party tonight in Boston and then head out on a short May jaunt up and down the East Coast.
American Babies Spring 2011 Tour Dates:
April 30 – Boston, MA – Great Scott
May 12 – Burlington, VT – Club Metronome
May 13 – Albany, NY – Red Square
May 14 – Wilkes-Barre, PA – River Street Jazz Café
May 19 – Raleigh, NC – The Pour House Music Hall
May 20 – Asheville, NC – Mo Daddy’s
May 21 – Columbia, SC – The White Mule
May 22 – Charleston, SC – The Pourhouse