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Mark Burgess and ChameleonsVox with Black Swan Lane and The Curtain Society - TT The Bears (Cambridge) - Tuesday, November 22, 2011

10 January 2012

This would mark the third time I’ve seen Mark Burgess since his improbable return to a US stage, and the first time that his compatriot from The Chameleons was drumming right behind him; of course I’m talking about John Lever here. And alongside those two were two new faces to me. Seems like Burgess has changed parts once again, but again he’s upped the ante in terms of musical prowess and muscle in a backing band- these guys were superb, even better than the scorching band that played 2010’s Big Takeover anniversary show.

I think at some point this tour was touted as being the entirety of Script Of The Bridge, but at least when they touched down in Boston that was scrapped and a nice mix of songs from the three records (still no “Denim and Curls” or “The Healer”!) was played instead. Burgess still can hold a roomfull of people in his hands regardless of what particular song he’s singing, but when the material is as powerful as “Second Skin” or “Souls In Isolation” or “Don’t Fall,” it’s quite a sight (and sound) to take in.

In particular I was quite chuffed to hear “Tears” as that is one of my all-time favorites (in either acoustic or electric form), but unfortunately another all-time favorite was inexplicably excised from the set list, the off-kilter and on-target “Caution.” Still, it would be utter foolishness to take anything but 100% joy from the show, and after the obligatory run through of “Splitting In Two,” the night was capped by a rousing take on “Things I Wish I’d Said.” Didn’t see that one coming.

Black Swan Lane has a fair bit of history with Burgess, as leader Jack Richard Sobel has collaborated with Burgess as well as other former The Sun And The Moon members on various tours and recordings. In this spirit of pitching in, both Lever and ChameleonsVox guitarist Chris Oliver pulled double duty, first taking the stage and playing with Black Swan Lane.

Unsurprisingly, the sound is dark, brooding, swirling, but also with occasional bright shafts of happiness and optimism emanating from the clouds. In short, tailor-made for the audience that Burgess attracts. Sobel played a mix of new and old (check out the new Staring Down The Path Of Sound), and it all sounded great. Highly recommended.

Openers The Curtain Society were pressed into last minute duty a few years ago as Burgess’ backing band and did what they could via cramming sessions to ingest and absorb the Chameleons’ songbook. Tonight, they had an easier task of playing material much more familiar to them, and they did a serviceable job of giving their interpretation of the mid-80s sound that was the theme of the night. Roger Lavalle had a real nice guitar tone, and the band was solid, but there was a spark missing from some of the songwriting to elevate it above the pack.

More photos can be seen at my site


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