Monday, September 10, 2018

Gin Blossoms bring infectious firepower to the Coach House

The Gin Blossoms in concert at the Coach House on Sunday,
Sept. 9, 2018. Photo: Bob Steshetz
Performing the fifth date of their North American tour in support of their latest album Mixed Reality, the Gin Blossoms were clearly firing on all cylinders and performed a flawless 90-minute set at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Sunday night (Sept. 9, 2018).
Robin Wilson of the Gin Blossoms

The spirited and fast-moving turn from the Tempe, Arizona-spawned '90s hitmakers (whose multi-platinum album New Miserable Experience turned 25 last year!) was not lost on the capacity crowd who frequently cheered, clapped and sang along to the wealth of favorites performed by the quintet.

Opening with "Lost Horizon (the opening cut from New Miserable Experience), the wistful melodic track set the tone with singer Robin Wilson working his tambourine whilst guitarists Jesse Valenzuela and Scott Johnson, bassist Bill Leen and drummer Scott Hessel locked in with a loose and inspired approach that would also mark the rest of the band's 18-song set.

The set was heavily weighted in favor of the band's best-known material, but was clearly enhanced by the inclusion of a handful of newer songs that proved to be just as potent and reflected the growth of the group. Take "Angels Fly," one of many wonderful tracks from Mixed Reality played on Sunday. It was among the most shimmering of the group's melodic tracks featured this night, with Johnson's nuanced fretwork and Wilson's reverb-adorned vocals giving the song an apt ethereal air. From there, Gin Blossoms charged right into another new cut, "Break," a lovely song bolstered by deft lead guitar work from both Johnson and Valenzuela.
Jesse Valenzuela (rear) and Robin
Wilson at the Coach House

Time has been kind to the Gin Blossoms' approach, whose sound resonates as well in 2018 as it did at the dawn of the '90s. Simply put, the outfit's sonic brew comprised of jangle-rich power pop and alternative rock is timeless. Wilson's personable approach (he would often hand tambourines to members of the crowd to get them to participate in the music making) and time-honed skills of all the musicians gave the concert a party-like vibe.

Add to that the performance of reflective ballads ("Until I Fall Away," "As Long as it Matters," the new "Wonder") and freewheeling delivery of solid rockers ("Found Out About You," "Allison Road" and "Hey Jealousy," the latter that ended the band's regular set) and this was certainly a night to remember.

Jesse Valenzuela
Gin Blossoms' three-song encore was also not to be missed. With Wilson and Johnson taking the stage first, the two settled into a country folk take on the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses" (the seminal track is from the 1971 album Sticky Fingers). Their band mates soon came on stage, providing additional layers to intensify the song; Valenzuela's work on an electric mandolin was especially affecting in the performance.

The band then launched into one of their best known tracks, the rousing "Follow You Down" complete with Wilson's powerful work on the harmonica.

"We're just a dusty band from the Sonoran desert," Wilson said after the track, acknowledging the wild reception.

The crowd would have surely been happy with that as a finale, but there was more. The band charged ahead, closing things out with a potent take on Tom Petty's "Anything That's Rock 'n' Roll."
Big Mother Gig performing at the Coach House on Sept. 9, 2018.

Opening the night was Los Angeles quartet Big Mother Gig, which received big cheers for a solid set of tuneful and crunchy melodic rock. Among the tracks that caught my ear on a first listen were the compelling "Nametag," Shoes-flavored "Alvarado," and guitar-anchored "Reflecting Flashlights."

You can catch Gin Blossoms at a number of upcoming concert dates, including at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, CA on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. Information:

Review by Robert Kinsler

Photos by Bob Steshetz

Picture on right: The Gin
Blossoms performing at 
the Coach House on Sunday,
Sept. 9, 2018.

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