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New Model Army in Concert (11/23/03)

With Special Guests Blood Junkies and the Over Reactors!


Not perfect but over all a great night for Kneumsi and his wife!

A night of waiting and surprises culminating in proof that the New Model Army has still got it!



J.C. Mašek III... New Model Critic!
J.C. Mašek III
The World's Greatest Critic!
Well loyal readers, I'd like to share some news with both of you! At long last I got free tickets to review a show. Well, technically I won free tickets to woo my wife and if you were to tell Martin Brown of the Coachhouse and the Galaxy Theatre that I was a music reviewer he'd likely respond "Who?" Either way, one of the great Gems of political post punk is the New Model Army so named after Oliver Cromwell's conquering militia for you English History buffs! It was a surprise to be sure, especially seeing as how my wife and I haven't got two pennies to rub together between us, but we do have this reviews web page, so somebody must like us somewhere! It was a cold Sunday night the week of Thanksgiving when we hit the Galaxy Theatre in Santa Ana, California primed and ready for New Model Army's Slade The Leveler (nee Justin Sullivan), who is every bit as much N.M.A. on his own as Robert Smith is the Cure. Cold or not, it was warming to see my wife's big smile at the knowledge that she wad going to get to see one of her all time favorites live and in person... it was sweet and warm as a hot toddy in December! Antici...................pation or no, the evening began with a profile not in courage or in bravery, but in patience!

Call me a goober, but when a show purports to begin at 8:00 PM, I'm thinking it should start at somewhere in the neighborhood of 8:00 PM. However, the first of the two Opening Acts smote their butts and took the stage at a little after 8:30, leaving the Missus and I listening to the sort of canned waiting music that even Elevators reject for taste reasons. I'd love to tell you that The Over Reactors were worth it, and they almost were, but in fact Technical issues and a mismatch with the rest of the show hurt their review.

Rebuttal from the Band:

(Tom sent me this
without even over reacting!)

Hi there,

I found your review while doing a Google search. I always accept criticism if it is offered constructively, and I believe that is the spirit in which YOU offered YOUR critique of our show. I (we) will consider your comments on our shortcomings, and we'll pay more attention in the future where necessary!

Frankly, we are tightest as an acoustic duo, and that's the way we prefer to play. Sometimes, though, we just like to play a show that is "out of the box", and exceed our limitations (with drums, or as an electric four piece band). And we never seem to learn our lesson (LOL)!

Would you like to be added to our email list? We will be competing in the 2004 OCMA for the "best live acoustic band" title. We'd be pleased if you would attend!

Best regards, Tom Mitchell / the OVER-REACTORS website - http://www.over-reactors.com

I wasn't able to make that show, though I did join their mailing list, as I recommend you should if you are or plan to be in the Orange County Area!!!
Watch this space for a new review of this band!

The Over Reactors are primarily and ordinarily a two piece acoustic jam duo who can commonly be found in Coffee Shops and usually quiet areas of open malls. This show they were accompanied by their friend Dave on drums. Now, this would be a boon, however, Dave on Drums outweighed the combined sounds of Robin on vocals and Acoustic Guitar and Tom on Bass. Make no mistake, this is a good band! Good as a duo, good as a trio, however they were probably in need of a production engineer and an acoustics tuning. The band's interesting mix of pop, folk and just a shade of punk (evoking memories of 10,000 Maniacs, the Indigo Girls, the Violent Femmes, and Grace Slick at varying times) was overpowered by the drumming and strumming that masked the notes I'm sure they were playing! At times no real chords were heard, but Robin's rapid-fire surf strumming on the strings of her Acoustic were easily heard. Tom's own Bass had all the pop and buzz of a great funk player, but again, the Pop and the buzz were much easier heard than the actual notes most of the time. Combined with Dave's drumming it sounded almost as if all three musicians were playing a percussion instrument instead of one drum set, one bass, one six string. Similarly the strong voices of both lead singer Robin, and backup Tom were drowned out by the beats of all three instruments. What I could hear was good, but it was also the minority. When I was able to hear them in moments of clarity I was impressed! Robin has a sweet and heavy voice rivaling many of her genre, and Tom's voice on both lead and backup vocals is damned good. It's also clear that all three of these people are very good musicians. Dave's drums obviously stole the show, but Robin's guitar was good when heard and Tom's Bass showed an amazing Technical proficiency (all the leads and "solos" were handled by the Bass at least as well as Brian Ritchie)! Robin and Tom likewise have the art of harmonized anti-harmony down pat! At times they sang the same thing in unison, and at times they sang the same thing each in a tempo and rhythm of their own. This added a folksy echo that sounded great here as it did when Eric Clapton accompanied BB King on "Riding with the King!" These guys are really good, but the sounds almost usurped the "SOUND" and that's not great. Further, as good as they are, they could take a note or two from Seattle's Sunflower Sutra who sound amazing live and carry a fuller sound. Still, The Over Reactors are very good, and none of the detractions of the show are really their fault. I highly recommend you check them out, but I recommend them more on a street corner than in a Concert Club. There's a reason that the Over Reactors were nominated for "Best Live Acoustic Band" in the 2003 Orange County Music Awards! For more on the Over Reactors, please visit their home page (which includes fully acoustic show dates, I'd recommend) at http://www.over-reactors.com! You might like them if you ever wondered what the Violent Femmes would look and sound like if Gordon Gano was replaced by Janis Joplin! You might be disappointed if you just saw Sunflower Sutra, or if you're in an acoustically challenged theatre! YY1/2

Who in the heck are the Blood Junkies? What can one expect from that name? James Marsters on lead vocals and David Boreanaz on Drums? Hully gee! These six statuesque rejects from a western horror film literally wandered up on stage from the Audience and gave the audience something they weren't expecting. In fact Blood Junkies' rabid blend of Punk Rockabilly and Goth was probably the last thing any of us expected to follow up the Over Reactors. If I had to tell you that Blood Junkies sounded like anyone I would say they sounded most like the Misfits around their first album, however, that would be a big limit on what is actually a pretty damned good mix. Blood Junkies incorporates some of the very best elements of Ry Cooder and the Doors, Mixes it well with the Misfits and Nick Cave, while giving a gracious nod to the cheese ball horror soundtracks of the late fifties and early sixties that gave rise to so many imitators. This band can be completely mesmerizing, scary, groovy, and silly all at the same time. From the double assault of their two percussionists to their Hanoi Rocks looking creepy-keys Keyboard player to their pompadoured lead guitarist to their too-preppy-for-this-band Bassist to the towering and spiky haired lead singer/ acoustic guitarist this is a completely unexpected band! They mix their spaghetti western sound with exacting precision into their horror-meets-punk theme. Not one song sounds like the other, yet each one conveys the Rockabilly and Crypt Keeper kitsch that they seem to love so much. Vocalist Shaun Kama seems to really love what he's doing as he wails out some of the best crooning since Glen Danzig graced the Less that Zero soundtrack. This guy has the kind of voice that made Chris Isaac famous once and can make him Jealous now! The rest of the band is dead on with their skill and their swaying like Sweet at a Ballroom Blitz. It's not easy to take any of their lyrics seriously any more than one might believe that Bella Lugosi is really a vampire, but it is all in good fun... and a hell of a lot of fun it is! What else is notable is that this six piece never fell on their orchestral size as a crutch forcing every note to be a tribute to the wall of sound. Instead each member knew when to lead and when to rhythm... and at one point the band was content to leave Kama alone with the fans for a spot-lit acoustic ballad that owed more to Roy Orbison than Johnny Rotten! For the majority of the show the formula worked, and the thundering western rhythms with punk enthusiasm and Kama's distant and haunting voice made Blood Junkies not only the biggest surprise of the night, but the next album I buy! You might like them if you ever wondered what Elvis would sound like performing in Jeckyll and Hyde or The Rocky Horror Picture Show! You might want to avoid them if "Goth" is a dirty word to you; kitsch and Irony is lost on you! For more on Blood Junkies, hit their web page here: http://www.blood-junkies.com! YYYY

While Blood Junkies held the medal for biggest surprise of the night, the second biggest had to be when the roadies (or was it Blood Junkies themselves?) cleared the stage almost completely. New Model Army's Drum Set never made it out, nor did their drummer... nor did their bass player... nor did any Bass. Instead Justin Sullivan strutted confidently on to the stage looking cool as a naked eskimo and grabbed an acoustic guitar. Announcing that technically he and accompanist Dean White were more of a "New Model Army Detachment" than the whole brigade Sullivan embarked on a set unseen since Frank Black tried the same thing... A two man show that had more of a full and complete sound than most bands do with a whole orchestra behind them. I'm proud to say that both Frank Black and Justin Sullivan can successfully pull this off! Sullivan stuck to his own voice and his acoustic guitar for the entire show while White accompanied on electric guitar, keyboard and Synthesizer (with occasional backing vocals)! Let me tell you, there wasn't a thing missing from the show at all! There were so many great songs, both original and the one Bob Dylan cover, and every song was crystal clear. Sullivan's hoarse, yet full and operatic (when needed) voice filled the theatre, reminding me not just of New Model Army's prime, but also of Joe Strummer of the Clash. I wouldn't have been a bit surprised if Sullivan had thrown in a "London Calling" tribute into the machine. Interestingly enough Sullivan sounded more complete with this "Detachment" than he did at various times on the actual band's studio albums. He peppered the time between songs with political rhetoric (comparing Al Jazeera and BBC World and deciding that one w as a bunch of Hot blooded liars and the other a bunch of cold blooded liars); Humor ("I love the idea of Thanksgiving. Giving thanks to what ever God is yours. In England on November 5th we celebrate the burning of a Catholic!"); and stories of home (he loves the road, but misses Yorkshire)! Looky here, Boyles and Ghouls, after 23 years of touring, Justin Sullivan hasn't lost a bit of his politics, not a bit of his edge, and not an atom's worth of his talent. He didn't simply come out and play "the hits" either, but stuck to a good and representative retrospective of a storied and well appreciated career. As my wife, Suzanne is the biggest fan of New Model Army I've ever known I can say that her smile elevates this show from good to great. What's more important than pleasing the fans? Well, pleasing your wife... Two birds with one stone, Amigo. No need to give you a range of liking them or not... go see New Model Army! You'll thank me! All things being equal I recommend New Model Army's Web Page to you as well... http://www.newmodelarmy.org! Hey, they're coming to Seattle soon... go see Sunflower Sutra while you're at it! YYYY1/2

Free tickets, a free Over Reactors CD, an overall great show and a stolen New Model Army poster (they weren't needing it anymore... sue me!). While the show was a mixed bag of tastes and talent every entry was very good and earning of a collective Four Stars out of Five! The Over Reactors? See them in a Coffee shop... they'll be excellent I am sure! Blood Junkies? Excellent rockabilly horror punk... Excellent show. The scene stealer was, and Shall be the New Model Army! They have still got it, and were worth every second of the wait! Not many can pull off a minimalist show and have it sound as uncondensed as a full band. Cheers to Slade the Leveler! Cheers indeed!

If you're ready for more reviews...
Click the CROMWELL out of this link! You political freak!


New Model Army Live 11/23/03 Reviewed by J.C. Mašek III who is responsible for his own views and he's also responsible for his addiction to rock! (no... not that rock!)
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