Last Night: Concrete Blonde At Fitzgerald's
Concrete Blonde, Girl In a Coma
Photos by Abrahan Garza
October 30, 2011
Aftermath was as bummed as anyone when Concrete Blonde, after a few fits and starts, apparently called it quits back in 2006. We also kicked ourselves repeatedly when we were unable to make any of the dates of last year's 20th anniversary tour for Bloodletting.
Fortunately for fans of the band, that last tour was apparently an enjoyable enough experience for singer/bassist Johnette Napolitano, guitarist Jim Mankey, and drummer Gabriel Ramriez that they've effectively reunited, writing new material and embarking on a series of "mini-tours." Last night's Houston gig was the final date on a three-city Texas swing that proved Concrete Blonde are as capable of merging heartfelt tenderness and straight-on ferocity as if no time has passed since their L.A. alt-rock glory days.
Fittingly clad in costumes for the evening (Johnette as Frida Kahlo, Jim as Mr. Spock...we think, Gabriel as the devil) on a stage drenched in red light and littered with jack o'lanterns, Concrete Blonde offered up a mostly tight set drawing from their 1987 self-titled debut to 2002's Group Therapy (their most recent release, Mojave, got no love). Unsurprisingly, the playlist leaned heavily on Bloodletting, with "Joey" -- the band's only top 20 hit -- making an early appearance. Aftermath's wife was happy to hear her favorite ("Caroline"), while the most rousing response was reserved for "Bloodlettng (The Vampire Song)."
We said the set was "mostly" tight, with the only glitches being a few minor miscommunications about which song was coming next. Not that it made any difference to the crowd, who looked almost overwhelmingly like the folks who listened to Bloodletting repeatedly by candlelight in the early 1990s. We did, too. No judging here.
And while Napolitano's status as a goth icon is well-established, labeling Concrete Blonde a "goth" band is too limiting for what they do. "That vampire album," as the band has referred to it, is dripping with minor key angst, sure, but each of their releases features the band stretching in different musicals, from tender ballads to balls-out rockers to Latin-tinged tunes to pop and back again.