Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Fixx performs timeless classic and new material at the Coach House

Cy Curnin led the Fixx throughout a mighty 90-minute performance at the Coach House on July 18, 2012.
  There is little doubt that lovers of ‘80s music were in the right place if they were at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Wednesday night (July 18, 2012). Not only did the Fixx headline, but both show openers boasted sounds in sync with the popular modern rock sounds of that decade during their respective sets.

The Fixx’ best songs from the ‘80s and early ‘90s retain their relevance and power decades after their original release – and what’s more – the quintet’s performance of those songs on the opening night of its U.S. tour reflected an outfit whose musical powers remain fully intact.

Jamie West-Oram displayed his talents.
After opening with “Red Skies,” singer Cy Curnin noted “It’s always good to be back at the Coach House, and explained that the group was going to be featuring songs off their new album Beautiful Friction (released July 17) and then play early material after that. Discerning listeners were then treated to a number of the outstanding songs from Beautiful Friction, including the fiery “Anyone Else” (a song inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement) which showcased Curnin’s still-mighty voice and guitarist Jamie West-Oram’s dazzling fret work. The hypnotic “Just Before Dawn” featured a grooving bass line from Dan K. Brown that was only overshadowed with the song’s grand finale, with West-Oram again demonstrating his artful approach with power and flair.

Later, the band rocked with “Take a Risk,” a powerful blues-rocker that somehow flowed perfectly into the aptly-titled “Beautiful Friction.”

Fixx fans seemed genuinely impressed with the new material, but obviously couldn’t wait to hear old favorites. The last half of the show offered commanding versions of the group’s heavyweight material, including a potent “Driven Out,” dance-minded “One Thing Leads to Another” and pulsating “Stand Or Fall,” the latter featuring keyboardist Rupert Greenall’s outstanding playing. "Saved by Zero" was also very powerful, with Curnin and West-Oram positioned at the front of the stage together as an extended version of the song came to a fiery and rocking close. It was a perfect finish to the regular set.

The encore yielded even more hits, with the Fixx closing out with the crowd on its feet throughout the heavy grooves of “Deeper and Deeper,” “Are We Ourselves?” (complete with Curnin acting out many of the song’s lyrics with a graceful use of his hands) and an extended take on “Secret Separation.”

Greg Craycraft of the Reflexx.
The Reflexx is one of Southern California’s best (and best known) ‘80s tribute bands and demonstrated why during an energetic 35-minute set. The talented trio (singer-guitarist Greg Craycraft, keyboardist Alex Medina and drummer Russ Simms) was able to deliver mostly-faithful versions of well-known hits but do so in a way where the songs were embedded with the energy of a modern rock outfit. In fact, the group’s rendering of “I Ran (So Far Away)” bested the version I saw Flock of Seagulls perform a few years back, and an even stronger version of Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” had several concertgoers on their feet dancing and many more singing along. Visit the band's official Web site by clicking here.

Opening the night, Orange County’s own Hyena Motorcade performed a 30-minute set that definitely recalled a Gothic rock sound positioned somewhere between the Psychedelic Furs and early Cure. The quartet didn’t provide much dynamic range in each song so that even when a tune would begin with a driving beat and interesting guitar work, it would ultimately lose power as it went along.
A special big thanks to Bob Steshetz for the use of the wonderful photos he took last night. Check out his photography and writing at his official Bob By Request site here.

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