Saturday, June 4, 2011

7. A Hard Night's Day at the Barley House, 6/3/11

7. A Hard Night's Day, at the Barley House.

This band is bigger than Cheez-Its.

Lo, and on the eighth day of the Project, we did see our seventh and eighth bands, and the name of the seventh was Hard Night's Day, and it was our second cover band, and it was good.

Actually, we just happened to be in the Barley House; we didn't come specifically to see the band.  We're at the Barley House a lot.  Yes, we're aware we've wasted our lives.

There was no cover charge.  About seventy people were there, ranging from your usual collegiate Barley denizens to several well past middle age, with the latter predominate on the floor.  More youthful patrons were on the patio --- but that doesn't mean the Kids These Days were ignoring the band.  More than one college-type came back outside, exulting to his or her friends that "this band is fantastic!"

A Hard Night's Day is a five piece, with two guitars, keyboard, bass, and drum.  Six people this night, if you count the guy who jumped on stage to shake a tambourine and do some sing-screaming, hitting some impressive high notes (we learned later this was a fellow from other Dallas-based Beatles tribute band From Us To You, joining them for the evening by invitation).

There are some tribute bands that go the whole recreation route pretty slavishly, dressing like the source of their emulation, reciting the same stage banter, and so on.  We had no doubt that a Hard Night's Day could have done that and pulled it off admirably, but the fact is they don't need to do that.  They have no need to dress like the Beatles or wear their haircuts or affect accents, because their superior musicianship puts on enough of a show all by itself.

Not to say the lads weren't connecting with their audience; they made comments from the stage, reacted to audience shout-outs, and generally had fun.  "A round of Jaeger shots will get you three more songs," the bassist jokingly announced at one point.

What we saw was a band that loves the material but doesn't treat it as sacred, and everyone has a lot of fun with it instead of revering it.  The three leads in A Hard Night's Day share or trade vocals, and make great harmonies together.  The set started with some of the early tunes, and got more and more rockin' as the night wore on.  We heard a terrific "Come Together," and were treated to some Paul McCartney/Nigel Tufnel "concentrating-on-my-solo" faces from the bassist.  Then the audience was told, "I'm afraid now it's time for you guys to sing along," and the band broke into "Hey Jude," during which the lyrics were changed to "Take a sad song, and drink some Jaeger" (being playful instead of treating the songs like the Holy Book = good times).  Then, before anyone could recover from the onslaught, someone said "What say we play the b-side to that tune," and the opening notes of "Revolution" began.

And the floor was instantly filled, as dozens of people got up to dance wildly.  This is a band that knows how to get people off their feet and into a great time.

"Revolution" was sung in a sort of affected, high-pitched nasal approximation of the original, which was one of the very few clunker moments of AHND's set.  The band closed with a roaring "Helter Skelter" and --- surprise --- Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love."  Paul Averitt's superb blistering guitar work tore these numbers apart and made them like it.

In sum: They may not sing quite as well as the Beatles did in their prime --- but come on, they're much older than the Beatles were in their prime; Paul McCartney can't sing like he could in his prime --- but no one could find fault with A Hard Night's Day's musicianship.  Is it heresy to point out that these stage veterans play their instruments as well or better than the young Liverpudlians could? We don't think so.

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