Flamin’ Groovies – The Bowery Ballroom – July 6, 2013
A generations-spanning crowd turned out to The Bowery Ballroom on Saturday for a night with the Flamin’ Groovies. Since forming back in 1965, the band has gone through multiple alterations, including various lineup adjustments and changes involving the ever-evolving musical styles and trends that come with the passage of time. When the band eventually broke up, it was hard to know if they could have foreseen that three core members—Chris Wilson, Cyril Jordan and George Alexander—would be back onstage together (with a new drummer, Victor Penalosa) in 2013, playing songs for folks who remember the group’s British Invasion–inspired power pop from their heyday, alongside a slew of new fans who weren’t born until many years later.
Tearing through opening song “Yeah My Baby,” a spirited version of “Tallahassee Lassie” and “You Tore Me Down,” Wilson, Jordan and Alexander’s excitement and enthusiasm for the music were palpable. Between songs, Jordan and Wilson cracked jokes and shared anecdotes: “We wrote this for the Beatles, but they didn’t want it,” said Jordan, prefacing the catchy “Please Please Girl.” “Not to mention they’d been broken up for seven years,” added Wilson, cheekily.
Flamin’ Groovies also treated the crowd to favorites like “Slow Death,” “Shake Some Action” and “Teenage Head,” but perhaps one of the most affecting moments during the celebratory evening was “First Plane Home,” a song with nostalgia built into the lyrics. There seemed to be a collective sense of reflection as Wilson sang, “But I, I’m gonna get the first plane home/ Well ya know/ I’m bound for old Frisco/ But I won’t be gone too long/ When I hear your voice/ You take me back/ To times when I was young.” With their performance, Flamin’ Groovies no doubt elicited a transformative experience, taking their fans back to another time, while also proving that the years have only strengthened the power of their rock and roll. —Alena Kastin