Monday, January 21, 2008
They Came From NJ
Jim, Pat, Thrilla and Dennis: Still Top of the Pops!
The Smithereens returned to the State Theater in Falls Church on fire on Jan 12th for a sold- out performance, picking up where they left off in Reston on Memorial Day weekend. The band was in top form, with Pat turning in a tremendous performance and Jim Babjak and the Thrilla, Severo Jornacion, aiding and abetting and leading the raucous crowd whilst the ever- reliable Dennis Diken laid down a steady beat and harmonies. Playing a thunderous mix of classic Smithereens including rare moments from their early releases, a few British Invasion tunes, and even a slightly belated X-Mas singalong in a gratifying tour de force, these Jersey boys (and honorary East Coaster. the Thrilla) deftly mixed in a couple of songs from Pat's latest solo album, Since You Went Away and Any Other Way, classic pop ballads that stand up to the Smithereens' formidable body of work.
There was no opening act (they would have probably been ripped apart by rabid fans were it otherwise!) and the band simply took the stage and launched into a high octane 2 hour set. The Smithereens mixed it up, playing a bounty of their best known work, kicking off with Only a Memory, and digging into their catalogue for House We Used To Live In, A Girl Like You, Blue Period, Behind the Wall of Sleep, Time and Time Again, Miles From Nowhere, and Cigarette (which Pat explained, he normally sang with a lit smoke in hand, but having recently given up the habit, he was forced to improvise a bit).
The band also pulled out chestnuts like Spellbound and In a Lonely Place that were welcome additions to their set, and as mentioned above, even threw in a few Beatles tunes from last year's "Meet The Smithereens," my favorite being It Won't Be Long, which had everybody in the joint yeah-yeah-yeahing. Thrilla and Jim kept the relentless pace going, clapping their hands and really ratcheted it up a notch when the unmistakable rumbling bass for Blood and Roses began. The subsequent encore featured a pair of Who covers (The Seeker, one of their staples, and a solid reading of Behind Blue Eyes, which I'd never heard them play before!), along with Santa Bring My Baby Back from their latest release, "Christmas With The Smithereens," that features classic (and non-cheesy!) Christmas songs like Chuck Berry's Run Rudolph Run, alongside their own original compositions.
Unfortunately, we did not have time for a third interview on this whirlwind visit, but we may be able to corner them when they return this summer play here at the Red Cross Waterfront Festival in Alexandria, VA. Saturday, June 14th. In the meantime, however, our friends did have us videotape this excellent show, which will be broadcast on Channel 10 as a 2 HOUR 1600 SPECIAL- in it's entirety very soon. Keep tuned to this space for schedules and check the www.fcac.org website for info on when this will air- anticipated to be sometime (several times, actually!) in February and March!
And that ain't all- these guys aren't letting any moss grow under their feet. Later this month, they'll be recording their first official live album at the Court Tavern, in New Brunswick, NJ January 30- February 2nd. Be there or be square! (For more latebreaking news, visit the Pat Di Nizio and Smithereens websites, now available on our links page!) This project is intended to be released as a double CD, and will feature all your favorite Smithereens' rockers, ballads, covers, and more recent material, recorded in state of the art digital sound! Pat said other new songs are ready for a third "solo" album. More details on that, and whether this will be a semi- (as the latest one) or complete Smithereens jam, when the info becomes available!