With fellow ’90s stars Domestic Problems sharing the bill, Saturday night’s annual holiday show delivered nostalgia and just plain fun for a near-capacity audience. (Review, photo gallery)
SCROLL DOWN FOR FULL PHOTO GALLERY. AND CHECK OUT THE WEEKEND PHOTO GALLERY OF LIVE SHOWS AT LOCAL SPINS ON MONDAY, INCLUDING GENETICS, MUSTARD PLUG, LA FAMIGLIA AND MORE.
Support our coverage of
West Michigan's music scene
They certainly don’t play like they’re “merely freshmen.”
As demonstrated by their near sold-out show at The Intersection on Saturday, members of The Verve Pipe command the stage like confident, top-of-the-class luminaries who graduated summa cum laude from the university of alt-rock: They deliver polished and lively renditions of new and old band classics with clever dynamics, climactic flourishes and smartly timed solos while leaving room for spontaneity and goofy antics that prove they really are having a good time.
Of course, they’ve been around for more than two decades, led by charismatic frontman and chief songwriter Brian Vander Ark, so this is not a new revelation by any means.
But Saturday’s performance had a different, almost triumphant feeling about it.
Not only was the ebullient post-Christmas crowd of 1,350-plus nearly triple the size of last year’s holiday show hosted by The Verve Pipe — buoyed by having Domestic Problems as well as East Lansing’s Desmond Jones on the bill — but the band seemed re-energized by having new material to unfurl (from “Overboard,” The Verve Pipe’s first “adult” rock album in 13 years) and a new backing vocalist (Channing Lee from the Channing & Quinn duo) to enhance its live sound.
REVVING UP THE CROWD WITH NEW AND OLD VERVE PIPE TUNES, AND DOMESTIC PROBLEMS’ ENERGY
Lou Musa, Randy Sly, Scott Stefanski, Joel Ferguson and Craig “Griff” Griffith further buoyed the holiday celebration as the band balanced old favorites such as “Never Let You Down” and “Villains” with new tunes like “Overboard” and “Hit and Run.”
They even revved up the revved-up crowd further by masterfully covering classics by Fleetwood Mac (“The Chain”) and Supertramp (“Take the Long Way Home”), with Domestic Problems frontman Andy Holtgreive hopping on stage to sing a verse and exchange hugs with Vander Ark.
The nostalgic flavor of the evening continued with Domestic Problems’ evening-ending set, with the band that also cut its teeth in the ’90s uncorking its audience-charming, party-styled revelry — the sort of rollicking, jam-band romp that induces smiles on stage and off. It’s the first time since the mid-90s that Domestic Problems and The Verve Pipe have shared the same stage, and Saturday proved that reuniting this pair was long overdue. (Read more about that in this Local Spins story.)
It all started with a surprisingly strong Intersection debut by the East Lansing-based Desmond Jones, which injected funk, soul and jazz textures into a rock-fueled set that deservedly earned roars of approval from the near-capacity crowd.
West Michigan will surely be hearing more from these talented players in the future — much like it did when The Verve Pipe and Domestic Problems played The Intersection for the first time in the ’90s.
THE VERVE PIPE, DOMESTIC PROBLEMS, DESMOND JONES:
THE LOCAL SPINS PHOTO GALLERY
Photos by Anthony Norkus
Click on photo to enlarge gallery; disable pop-up blocker if images won’t load
THE VERVE PIPE (FROM BACK STAGE)
Copyright 2014, Spins on Music LLC