Last week I wrote about Los Lobos, a band that has been together for 40 years and is still performing at the top of its game. Two nights after I saw that Los Lobos show, I was treated to performance by another band that got its start back in the ’70s. While Graham Parker and the Rumour didn’t stay together over the years, they’re more than making up for it on this scintillating reunion tour.
They were all there. Brinsley Schwarz and Martin Belmont on guitars, Andrew Bodnar on bass, Bob Andrews on keyboards, and Stephen Goulding holding down the drum spot, the old gang was complete. It was the same lineup that first got together in 1975, and began supporting Parker the following year.
It was completely appropriate then that they came charging out of the gate with a “White Honey,” the first track from “Howlin’ Wind”, which was the first album by Graham Parker and the Rumour. It was an album that the band returned to frequently during the show, playing chestnuts like “Lady Doctor,” “Soul Shoes,” “Don’t Ask Me Questions,” and the title track.
Heat Treatment was the second Graham Parker and the Rumour album released in 1976, and it was represented by performances of “Fool’s Gold,” and “Black Honey.” As you might expect, there was a large selection of songs from Three Chords Good, the band’s first album in more than 30 years, which included “Coathangers,” “Snake Oil Capitol of the World,”Long Emotional Ride,” “A Lie Gets Halfway ‘Round the World,” “Last Bookstore in Town,” and the title track. The powerful live versions of these songs made me want to listen to the album again because I found it a bit timid on first listening.
It was no secret that most of the fans in attendance wanted to hear songs from Squeezing Out Sparks, far and away the band’s most popular album. They were not disappointed, but it wasn’t until the end of the set that the band broke out stunning takes on favorites like “Discovering Japan,” “Don’t Get Excited,” “Protection,” “Local Girls,” and “Passion Is No Ordinary Word.” None of these songs have lost a bit of their power of the years, and the band’s ability to use them to send an audience into a frenzy has not waned.
Graham Parker is the only member of this band who has stayed in the public eye over the years, but it’s clear that the Rumour must have been home practicing because they haven’t lost a step. There they stayed, in the bullpen, just waiting for the call. When it finally came they stepped up and closed the deal emphatically. Hopefully we won’t have to wait as long for the next call.