NRBQ’s Return to The Hangar on the Hudson this Saturday
NRBQ returns Saturday to The Hangar on the Hudson with a new live album bolstering their reputation among America’s greatest, most surprising, beloved and under-rated rock bands.
For more than 50 years, they’ve managed the unique alchemical miracle that super-fan Johnny A rightly identified a few years ago, “They make you feel young.”
Recorded for Sirius XM at The Loft in 2014, “Up In the Loft” is the 18-song show that does what the ‘Q always does onstage: toss every kind of American popular and roots music into a blender and turn that sucker to maximum fun. It has upbeat dance floor outbursts, including “Boozoo, That’s Who,” “Waitin’ On My Sweetie Pie” and “Keep This Love Goin’,” and deep-in-the-heart ballads including “My Life With You.”
Among the rockers and romance, surprises pop up, as usual. Pianist Thelonious Monk’s “Well You Needn’t,” for example, hits like rockabilly as much as bebop; it’s a spunky guitar romp, also, of course, a keyboard explosion.
That they can generate such driving delight without a set-list planned – they make up the show song by song – sounds like some sort of supernatural force for fun at work.
Their 30-plus albums are on more than a dozen labels, reflecting music-biz confusion over how to market a band whose stylistic ambition reaches so wide. As founding bassist Joey Spampinato once told me, “Our thing is, we do more than one thing.” They’ve called it “omnipop” and explained they make music with fresh ingredients.
Since recording “Up in the Loft,” John Perrin – a Chicagoan like guitarist Scott Ligon and bassist Casey McDonough – took over the drum chair. Like everybody in NRBQ, he also plays other things. In some songs nobody in the band plays his main instrument; and saxophonist Klem Klimek may be the band’s most powerful singer.
At Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble barn on Wednesday, they played (according to a goes-to-every-show fan);
Too Much; Five More Miles; Encyclopedia; There Should Be a Book; Where’s My Pebble; This Old House; Snowfall; You Got Me Goin’; Gotta Get a Date; Just Ain’t Fair; That Makes Me a Fool; The Moon and Other Things; Howard Johnson’s Got His Ho Jo Workin’; Get a Grip; Take the ‘A’ Train; Boozoo and Leona; Well, You Needn’t; Throw Out the Life Line; ‘Til It’s Over; My Life With You; Green Lights; Little Floater; John guitar instrumental; Shaggy Dog. Encore: Music Goes ‘Round and Round; Ridin’ in My Car; Me and the Boys; Paris.
Last June at the Hangar, they did this, as I reported here:
As usual, they proved, to general delight, that a good song stays good and that they can play any good song, any night.
The Hangar felt like a club anybody could join, filled with fans who likely hadn’t gathered together since NRBQ last hit town but likely will again, next time.
- This Old House
- Here I Am
- Where’s My Pebble?
- Five More Miles
- Things to You
- Blues Stay Away From Me
- Boy’s Life
- Keep This Love Goin’
- Wouldn’t It Be Nice
- Moonlight Serenade
- Can’t Wait to Kiss You
- Dang Me/Tom Dooley
- It’ll Be All Right
- We’re Walking
- Shaggy Dog
- Sit In My Lap
- Pouring Out a Bottle of Wine
- Howard Johnson’s Got His Ho Jo Workin’
- It’s Not Too Late
- Improvised Scott Ligon guitar solo
- Scrapple from the Apple
- I Want You Bad
- The Moon and Other Things
- I Want You to Feel Good Too
- The Music Goes ‘Round and ‘Round
- Ridin’ in My Car
NRBQ returns at 8 p.m. Saturday to the Hangar on the Hudson (675 First St., Troy). $39.45 (518) 272-9740 https://www.thehangaronthehudson.com/