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Friday Nights Rock with J. Roddy Walston & the Business

November 10th, 2014

J. Roddy Walston & the Business – Stage 48 – November 7, 2014

The energy in the room at Studio 48 on Friday night was of the school’s-out-for-summer, Friday-before-a-three-day-weekend, they-don’t-rock-’em-like-they-used-to variety. Thankfully, the soundtrack matched the mood with Fly Golden Eagle opening the night and J. Roddy Walston & the Business bringing it home. There was something universal about Fly Golden Eagles’ set, the kind of rock and roll that made the bar back on his way to get more ice stop and play air guitar and those lucky to be there early to revel in the band’s slinky grooves. The short-but-sweet set bounced around straight funky blues riffs, prog-y instrumental interludes and blasts of dry heat rock that were reminiscent of the night’s headliners—no doubt a band to keep your eye on.

After a short intermission, which saw pretty much every empty space fill up with people eager to rock, J. Roddy Walston & the Business took the stage and pounced on an opening “Don’t Break the Needle,” off their 2010 self-titled LP. To say the room exploded at the opening riffs would somehow be an understatement. The audience’s reaction was like that of a bunch of people who had never experienced rock and roll before, which is the way Walston plays it. By the time the set’s third song, “Take It as It Comes,” reached its first chorus, everyone in the crowd wasn’t so much singing along as screaming as if their lives depended on it, not so much dancing along, but flailing as if possessed. And really, things stayed at that level the rest of the set: the audience dry kindling soaked in gasoline, the Business shooting off sparks of guitar, piano, bass and drums and watching the combustibles before them burn, burn, burn.

Between songs, Walston would banter with a wink: “Here’s another rock and roll song” and “You guys want to keep on rocking?” Almost a tease, except that they kept delivering, Walston bouncing and boogieing and gesticulating all the while, right through the closing “Midnight Cry.” A fireworks display like that required a big finale, and the band delivered with an encore of “Sweat Shock”—Walston sounding every bit like the second coming of Robert Plant as the Business brought arena riff rock into the 21st century—and then “Heavy Bells,” which was somehow impossibly bigger, louder and badder than everything that had preceded it. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com