The Bogmen – The Bowery Ballroom – December 19, 2014
If you’ve already heard of the Bogmen, then you probably love them. They had a short but sweet run through the mid-90’s, which included getting signed to the major label Arista for the release of their two albums. But in the pre-Internet days, when music discovery was left to happenstance, the Long Island group never broke huge. So instead of being liked by all, they remain loved by the select few in the know. The Bogmen dissolved with the ’90s but have reunited occasionally for charity shows, like their appearances at The Bowery Ballroon on Friday and Saturday. Their fans are still rabid, and anyone who saw them on Friday night has the beer-shower stains to prove it. (For those wondering if The Bowery Ballroom has the structural integrity to sustain a sold-out crowd of rather large men jumping in unison, the answer is yes.)
Their stage had all the glitz and glamour of a true Christmas spectacular, complete with a silver-streamer background and Christmas lights–lit microphone stands. The band wore all white outfits with wonderful accents of Christmas tree garland, and lead singer Billy Campion sported a tie made entirely of Christmas ornaments. With your eyes closed once the music started, you’d have thought this was a band playing shows on a regular basis. Dance friendly polyrhythmic grooves reminiscent of Talking Heads carried “Big Burn.” “Dr. Jerome (Love Tub, Doctor),” with its chorus of “Dr. Jerome, love tub doctor!” sung in unison by all, as loud as possible. Campion, who’s had vocal-cord issues in the past, powered through the vocal-straining “It’s a Fast Horizon,” noting that it was the first time he was able to sing it live, declaring his voice, at 43, the best it’s ever been. “Suddenly” came complete with a live rendition of the back-and-forth breakup phone call, with the original line declaring that the ’90s would be all about love replaced with “the ’90s, they’ve come and gone/ And now I don’t know what’s going on/ But I’m loving it!”
With a point, a nod or a smile, over the course of the night, band members acknowledged a number of faces in the crowd—a healthy mix of friends, fans and family. Opener Julia Haltigan joined the Bogmen for their encore of a stirring rendition of the Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York,” complete with dancing around a stage crowded with band members. Someone dressed as Santa eventually made his way onstage. Or, if you believe in miracles, maybe it was Kris Kringle himself, taking off time from his busy schedule. After all, the Bogmen don’t perform very often, but when the opportunity arises, you take it.
—Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks