Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Fixx soars in Coach House return

Cy Curnin, pictured here performing at The Coach House in July 2012, led the Fixx in a magnificent return to the venue on July 19, 2013. Photo: Bob Steshetz
Although it has been 30 years since the release of their trailblazing Reach the Beach album, the Fixx is one of the few groups to emerge in the 1980s whose artistry remains fully intact.
The evidence played itself out in brilliant fashion when the British rock quintet performed a flawless 18-song set before a capacity crowd at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Friday night, July 19.

Featuring songs from 1983's Reach the Beach and 2012's sterling Beautiful Friction (and a few choice hits off 1982's Shuttered Room and 1984's Phantoms), this was a concert that provided plenty of opportunities for nostalgia seekers to sing and clap along, but it was also a night for more discerning listeners to join the band for an even more abounding experience celebrating the musical and lyrical layers that have long separated The Fixx from both their contemporaries and any number of musical descendants.

Like several of their fellow early '80s pioneers (U2 and R.E.M. immediately come to mind),  time has been kind to the band's sound. Confident in their latest songs, the Fixx opened with a powerful string of cuts pulled from last year's Beautiful Friction.  The opener "Anyone Else" found Rupert Greenall's keyboard textures coating Cy Curnin's outstanding vocal delivery while the third offering, "Take a Risk," proved to be a potent riff rocker with Jamie West-Oram's masterful fret work featured. The performance of Beautiful Friction's title track was nuanced with the full band playing the lush arrangement before a more fiery and forceful take on their "What God."

The Fixx didn't take a by-the-numbers approach when playing their classics that came later; "Less Cities, More Moving People" boasted some of the richly-ornate keyboard-meets-guitar layers that are a trademark of the outfit. But then that approach was foreshadowed on "Outside" back in 1983, played this night with Curnin still fully in command of a falsetto that brought chills with its beauty.

An infectious "One Thing Leads to Another," haunting "Stand or Fall" and extended "Saved by Zero" filled the regular set with additional highlights. Throughout the night, Curnin was ever a personable and engaging frontman.

A strong encore found the Fixx playing a funk-tinged  "Deeper and Deeper," an explosive "Shaman" (another gem off Beautiful Friction) and ultimately a charged "Red Skies" where the joyful audience sang with almost as much power as the outstanding cast of players on the stage in front of them. 

The memorable night left me hoping that I would get to see the Fixx again soon, and that the group (which also features an outstanding rhythm section courtesy of bassist Dan K. Brown and drummer Adam Woods) will release new music soon. A concert DVD release would be nice too.

Here is a video featuring the Fixx performing "Red Skies" at The Coach House. The audio quality is very good:


newwavegeo said...

Wow. Sounds like a great show. Sorry I had to miss it. Glad I saw them play last year.

Ann Murray said...

I was there that night! July 19th ! It was a great show! Then the next morning. I was on PCH in Capo Beach and a white limo pulled up next to me at the stop light in Capo Beach, windows down and who was in the Limo?? The Fixx!!! My husband yelled out the window and we got a thumbs up! Very Cool!