The Blasters keep it all music in a night of high energy
House of Blues, Hollywood, Cal., March 8, 2002
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - Anybody looking for a little soap opera-like fighting between brothers Phil and Dave Alvin during this brief reunion of the original Blasters, came to the wrong place. Although Hollywood has staked its reputation on dramatizing such sibling rivalries, this turned out to be an all music and no friction night.
Everybody looked a little grayer - especially the bearded pianist Gene Taylor - but this band - that put a little roots into Los Angeles' punk scene back in the '80s - has lost none of its initial high-powered rockabilly energy.
Every time singer Phil Alvin looked at his brother Dave to his right, it was with a smile of admiration. And by the time the band, which also included John Bazz on bass and Bill Bateman at the drums, reached its first encore with "One Bad Stud," it appeared to be just getting warmed up.
Dave Alvin has devoted much of his 17 years away from The Blasters to producing albums for others, and recording and playing his own uniquely deep-voiced brand of folk music. But it was a welcome blast from the past to witness Dave spreading his legs out and spitting out speedy riffs from his electric guitar once again. He even threw in a few jumps along the way, just in case anybody doubted how much fun he was having.
The Blasters were lumped in with a rockabilly revival back in the day, but as one of their better known songs rightly states, they're all about "American Music" of almost every variety. This is why a song like "Hollywood Bed" feels like it was birthed in New Orleans due to Gene Taylor's rolling piano. The group also has a softer side, which was on display with "Help You Dream." "Long White Cadillac," about Hank Williams' last night on earth, was a reminder of how well this band knows its music history, and "Common Man" showed why they are much more politically-minded than most other good time bands.
Phil Alvin still leads a modified version of The Blasters to this day, but he will always remain in competition with the overwhelming burst of creative output from this original unit. Phil and Dave will more than likely go back to bickering after this short reunion (in support of Rhino's release of "Testament: The Complete Slash Recordings (1981 - 1985)") has ended. But this crowd was especially pleased to see them put their differences aside momentarily, for a high energy stroll down memory lane.