Errols Weekly Music Update.

May 27, 2011

Concert Review: The Cars at Roseland Ballroom on Wed. May 25, 2011

“The Cars Cruise Into NYC”

The Cars cruised into New York City this past Wednesday with a one night only show at Roseland Ballroom to showcase their new album-“Move Like This”- as well as a cross section of their body of work which ranged from 1978 through 1987 and there were moments of brilliance along with baited anticipation from the audience, that seemed to want more from them. Don’t get me wrong, their show was solid, especially when they played the “crowd pleasers” (see “Let’s Go” and “Just What I Needed”) and even when they played some of their new stuff (see “Keep On Knocking”) but I know that I wanted a longer performance with more selections from their first four albums. If you are a dedicated Cars fan and have seen them perform live before this tour then you know what you are going to get, like I mentioned in my review for their new album, they have picked up where they left off in 1987. It’s as if the years between 1988 and 2010 did not exist and as a fan you know that they are set in their ways and really don’t veer off the track. I get the feeling that most fans want them to pound on the accelerator just once and let loose with reckless abandon while keeping the hands on the wheel to avoid any crashes or fender benders. Again the word “restraint” comes into mind when I think of this band and when you see them live, it is literally like putting the albums on in your bedroom. Now there is nothing wrong with that because as I said they are so talented and have created some of the best tunes to come out of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s but again sometimes that “restraint” seems to hold them back from making their live shows a mind blowing experience. While I was at the show (having a great time I must add due to the excitement created by Jon, Chris, Diana, Mike & Eli) it occurred to me that The Cars could be the perfect band to have played in the movie “Titanic” because they are so “workman like” that they could still play and look calm while the ship was sinking. Overall I’m not sure if they felt the energy that the crowd was giving them but I was glad that my dream of seeing them again came to fruition and I hope they continue to drive around the block a few more times because I want to head back and hear more of their classics.

Let me set the day/night for you-I was so psyched that I was going to see The Cars that I actually had to pinch myself to see if it was real. All day long as I roamed the hallways of the building I work at looking for someone to share my enthusiasm but as usual no one would have known what I was so excited about or worse yet, they wouldn’t even know who The Cars were and I didn’t want to kill my buzz so I walked around all day (except for one phone call that I made to my friend Scott) like I had a canary in my mouth. But then it happened, all my enthusiasm came rushing back as I entered the apartment of Chris, who along with his brother Jon, were blasting songs from The Cars and were just as excited-if not more-than I to see the band from Boston. Ahhhh… this is what I was looking for. They were asking me about the new album and I was telling them what songs to listen to (which is basically the entire album). Then Eli entered the fray as well as Diana and Mike and this was the best “pre-game” party I had ever attended and it was that more special because they all love The Cars just as much as I do. I felt like I was part of a club, felt like a kid again and I want to thank all of them for making it a great night.

As we sat there listening to their songs, I mentioned that this band is like “clock-work” so we couldn’t let the time slip away and wouldn’t you know it-Chris burst into the room and said the guy on the phone said they would hit the stage at 8:10 p.m.-it was 7:40. We had to hustle as we were in the lower east side of NY having to head over to midtown on the West side, so we jumped into two separate cabs and of course there was so much traffic. Jon and his wife, Diana, and I jumped out of the cab at 45th street and moved briskly to get to 52nd street and wouldn’t you know it-Chris and the others were already there even though we caught the first cab. As I walked into Roseland Ballroom I was totally engulfed by the buzz of the audience, I could not believe how crowded it was and that energy that I always talk about was in the air and I felt it. Within ten minutes of us being in the place, the members of The Cars just casually walked out on stage. From our vantage point, due to the elevated stage, they appeared larger than life. To the left of the stage, almost in the corner, sat David Robinson behind the skins and if I am correct it looked as if he was sporting a pony tail. There he is, the man-Elliot Easton-standing near David most of the night with his guitar pointing in the opposite direction than what I am used to seeing (he is a “lefty”). Over to the right is Greg Hawkes with his snow cap covering but still with the massive skills that he had as a younger lad. And then here he comes, Mr. Ric Ocasek (reminds me of Howard Stern for some reason or Geddy Lee) walking out on stage as the opening riffs to “Good Times Roll” began and as he was closer to the stage we all see him look down and suddenly he stops playing. That guitar wasn’t the right one for him as someone quickly handed him another one and they started over again. Now that is a first for me as I had never seen anything like that but you know what, I loved it-I thought maybe this was going to be the night where they let their hair down and since it was a gaffe at the very beginning and no one cared, I was looking for improvising the rest of the night. As the song began, Chris-who was the most energetic person I have ever attended a show with- was out of his mind as we all began to sing-“Let the good times roll…let them knock you around..” We were all simulating that we were Mr. Hawkes by mimicking him with our “make believe” keyboards which were conveniently located at our finger tips. This was going to be a night of singing, dancing and “air-guitaring” as well as air-drumming along with “air-keyboarding.”

After that song they did the first song on the new album-“Blue Tip”-and most fans thought they knew the tune but they didn’t. It is an upbeat song so the energy of the crowd kept going but you could sense that they wanted an older “hit.” The crowd really became frenzied once they heard the opening licks of “My Best Friend’s Girl.” Our own little “crowd” all turned to each other and began the handclaps while belting out the lyrics as did everyone else. The “love-fest” was on and in full swing as we all put on our nuclear boots and drip dry gloves and we all bit our lips so that we could actually feel that this was the Cars playing again in 2011. How great is this? We all waited for Easton’s solo and exuberated as he hit it note for note. Did we expect anything less? Then a few songs later they totally blew me away by performing “I’m In Touch With Your World.” Wow did this take me back to my bedroom as a teenager with the door closed as I blasted this song out the window. Totally psychedelic with all these noises coming from every which direction and you know they did every one of them at the show. “It’s a sticky contradiction…it’s a thing you call creation…everything is science fiction…and I ought to know…” Jon was eagerly awaiting the cool new song-“Keep On Knocking”- and they obliged as we all were lifted off the ground-although I can not jump as high as Chris. This is a “jam-like” tune and Diana keenly pointed out this fact and stated that this type of music is now back and the younger generation would love this. I couldn’t agree more. In unison we were all singing-“They keep you in follow mode…they hold up their signs…they keep you in follow mode…all the time…They keep on knocking…” Finally here is Easton at the forefront with his one and only solo from the new album, we were all screaming for more, let him loose!!! Chris then almost hit the ceiling as “You Might Think” came on-the jumping became higher and he led all of us into singing-“You might think I’m crazy”- what do you want?-“All I want is you!!”

The latter part of the show included new songs spliced in between “I’m Not The One” and “Heartbeat City” and as I mentioned I think the “Sad Song” is destined for stardom in future shows. Then there it was, one of the few songs performed on this night that used to be sung by the late Benjamin Orr-“Let’s Go”- that put the crowd into fifth gear and now there couldn’t be any turning back to the “lesser known” songs. It was like a giant party as the entire Roseland Ballroom was singing, dancing and clapping hands and The Cars performed it to precision. “She’s a frozen fire…she’s my one desire…I like the night life baby!!!”This is what I was waiting for, this is what my life is all about!!!

The encores were all from the first album as the “creepy” “Moving In Stereo” began we were all out of our minds by then as we formed the old “doo wop” circles like they used to do on the corner blocks of The Bronx back in the 1950’s and belted out-“It’s so easy to blow up your problems…it’s so easy to play up your breakdown…it so easy to fly through a window”- could it get any better than this? I was on another cloud as I couldn’t believe that I was experiencing this all over again. As the opening notes to “Just what I Needed” began I was wishing that the entire world could have been inside of the Roseland Ballroom to experience the pure euphoria of the audience. Just like Dorothy, we were all going home again. “I don’t mind you coming here…and wasting all my time…cause when you’re standing oh so near…I kind of lose my mind.” Greg Hawkes keyboards took me to outta space as I felt the adrenaline being pumped into my veins and I didn’t want it to ever end. “I guess you’re just what I needed…I needed someone to bleed.” How great is Easton on guitar? The show’s finale-“You’re All I’ve Got Tonight”- was probably the best song of the night as the familiar drum beats by David permeated throughout the entire ballroom as our own little crowd continued the doo wop circle and sang along with Ric and we all could have jumped up on stage and let him take a break as we knew every word. We also knew that Easton was going to get the spotlight as his guitar work on this song is flawless. They did the old “Plant/Page” thing as Easton played blissfully behind Ocasek’s vocals. This song is so great, so powerful and we all blasted off as Easton took the lead and played it to perfection. I knew they could not top this song and realized the show was coming to its end but it was worth it, my dream had come true.

The Cars still have a lot left in the tank and I hope that they recognize this and that there are still fans out there clamoring for more. As I mentioned, the classic songs is what made this show and it’s not like they tour every year where we would all be sick of hearing it-it has been almost a quarter of a century-we want the old stuff as well as the new material. The Cars are now back on the road and just getting into second or third gear-I want to be there when they hit fifth gear. Thank you guys for a great night and taking me back to my youth. You are the best!!!!

Set List

1.       Good Times Roll

2.       Blue Tip

3.       Since You’re Gone

4.       Up and Down

5.       My Best Friend’s Girl

6.       Hits Me

7.       Touch and Go

8.       I’m In Touch with Your World

9.       Keep On Knocking

10.     You Might Think

11.     Drag on Forever

12.     Free

13.     I’m Not The One

14.     Sad Song

15.     Heartbeat City

16.     Let’s Go

Encore

17.     Moving In Stereo

18.     Just What I Needed

19.     You’re All I’ve Got Tonight

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4 Comments »

  1. WOW! Thanks for this amazing review — I totally just relived the night, which obviously was just incredible! And I couldn’t agree more with your critique. These songs are amazing, but there is so much more they could do with them during a live show. It’s like, just as I got my little dance groove going, they brought it right back. If they kept that space building up for even just a little longer, it would elevate the performance (and the crowd energy) to a whole new level. Still, the show was amazing, and if the band toured more often I’m confident the next generation would totally dig it. The 80s synth sound is really coming back. (Check The Indobox, for example.) But honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a more fun night. I LOVE this concert crew. Let the good times roll!!

    Comment by Diana — May 27, 2011 @ 9:49 am

  2. Everything you said in your review, I mean everything, I experienced. Great review of a great concert which, indeed, took me back to my youth.

    Comment by Michael Walter — May 27, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

  3. I see that you only mentioned the obvious missing presence of the great Benjamin Orr in one sentence. Shame on you. Although, they seemed to “fill in nicely” on his vocals…I could only stand there and wonder…if only he was there…and then the reality that he has passed set in and I somewhat got over it…somewhat. Here’s what got me though. “I’m in touch with your world”…creeepy!!! Not the greatest rendition but very creepy. Never heard them play that…ever. But, was never a big fan of “round and round”, and after hearing it the other night, it is stuck in my head like a super computer virus. Glad you had a great time, as did I.

    Comment by matthew — May 27, 2011 @ 8:15 pm

  4. Great Show!!!

    Comment by Rene — May 27, 2011 @ 10:44 pm


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