Talon News - Good Local News

By Jacque Ritchie



Jacque Ritchie

Gritty electric commingles with soulful acoustic guitar recalling an endless summer sound as the Gin Blossoms took the stage Friday night at the Farmington Civic Center.

While the bittersweet strains of 'Follow Me Down' filled the 1180 seat space, only a select group of 240 were privy to the two-time platinum-album-winning band visiting Farmington on Friday, June 9.

The band plunged headlong into the evening's set. Three songs in, Jesse Valenzuela rips a serious guitar solo out of his 'Lonely Pieces of the Night.' Short, but oh so sweet. 'Bout then lead singer Robyn Wilson asks for the house lights to be brought up "just a couple clicks" so he could see the audience.

The band was obviously taken aback when they realized just how sparse the population of the Civic Center was. Crickets chirped while the audience and the band each held their collective breath. Wilson barely missed a beat as he beckoned to the audience, calling for everyone to come down to the floor and gather around the stage. "Now this feels more like a real rock and roll party!"

WaaLaa! Wilson successfully created an intimate club atmosphere out of what could have been a dusty ghost town of a show.

Yowza! No one can accuse these guys of being a studio band. They faithfully reproduced hits like 'Allison Road' and 'Till I Hear It From You' with a, is-it-real-or-is-it-Memorex kinda feel.

Lead guitarist Scott Johnson joked and jammed with bassist Bill Leen and drummer Phil Rhodes, their mood easy and familiar. Wilson engaged an enthusiastic audience that sang along for the entire show.

It was no surprise the band ended the set with their celebrated commercial hit 'Hey Jealousy.'

The crowd cried out for more and the band consented. Wilson said, "This is the loudest 200 people we ever heard!" The encore included Van Morrison's 'Tupelo Honey' 'My hands are Tied,' (New Miserable Experience) and Johnny Cash's 'Folsom Prison.'

After 30 years touring and making music, the secret to the Gin Blossoms shelf life is obvious; these guys truly enjoy being around each other, or at least they don't totally hate each other. That much is pretty evident.

It is hard to say what was more amazing about the show; the sublime performance of the band or the honest generous appreciation of the audience.

As euphonious the melodies and the term 'gin blossoms' may sound, the band's moniker was inspired by a W.C. Fields colloquialism used to describe the alcohol related burst blood vessels on the comics nose. Not unlike the name of band, Gin Blossom music offers an appealing alternative punk flirtation fused with lyrics representing darker personal struggles. And the band has had its share of tragedy.

Out of Tempe, AZ, Gin Blossoms became a 'bar band' phenom that amassed a huge college following. They released 'Dusted' in 1989 followed by 'Up and Crumbling' in 1990. Then in '92 charter member lead guitar and lyricist Doug Hopkins was fired from the band when his drinking became a liability. Hopkins subsequently committed suicide in '93, the same year of the bands' breakout platinum album: New Miserable Experience.

After Hopkins death the band struggled to achieve the lyrical depth that Hopkins lent to the group. In 1996 they released the platinum winning 'Congratulations I'm Sorry.'

Friday's show included three new songs that will be released early 2018 on a still un-named album. The new stuff followed the same tried and true formula as their vintage sound, which will be a comfort to many fans and, hey, why fix it if it ain't broke.

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