I reviewed the Light of Day concert at the Outpost in the Burbs in Montclair on Jan. 5, and was also at the Light of Day “Kick Off” concert at House of Independents in Asbury Park, Jan. 11.
How can a festival have a kick-off concert six days after its first concert? Well, over the festival’s first six days, activity is sporadic, and spread out over Asbury Park, Montclair, Philadelphia and New York. But from Jan. 11 to Jan. 14, Light of Day — which raises money for Parkinson’s disease research and related causes — saturates clubs, theaters and other venues throughout Asbury Park. (For a complete schedule, visit lightofday.org or get the festival’s excellent app via iTunes App Store or GooglePlay.) So the House of Independents show kicked off this portion of the festival.
The “Kick Off” headliner was Bobby Bandiera and an eight-piece band, paying tribute to the late Tom Petty with covers of 20 songs he wrote and two he covered (“Something in the Air” and “Needles and Pins”). Bandiera proved to be perfectly suited to the task, and not just because he’s one of the Jersey music scene’s best guitarists. Petty was often an understated vocalist, going for the wry twist rather than the knockout punch, and Bandiera tends to deliver his songs the same way.
Bandiera sounded a little hoarse at times, and said he was having problems with his voice, and members of band stepped up from time to time to relieve him of lead vocals duty. Guitarist Ralph Notaro did a great job on a fiery “Even the Losers,” for instance, while backing vocalists Lisa Sherman and Kristin Cochran sang with stunning power on “Refugee” (Sherman), “Something in the Air” (Cochran), “I Need to Know” (Sherman) and “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” (performed as a duet between the two women). See the complete setlist, below.
Performing before Bandiera, Dramarama and Joe D’Urso & Stone Caravan offered sets of brawny rock ‘n’ roll, with D’Urso saluting the late Smithereens frontman (and Light of Day supporter) Pat DiNizio with a cover of his “Behind the Wall of Sleep” and stirring up the crowd with a cover of Willie Nile’s “One Guitar,” which has become something of a LOD anthem over the years. (D’Urso & Stone Caravan and Dramarama frontman John Easdale both have more LOD appearances to come this week. As does Bandiera, and Nile, too, for that matter).
Opening the show was a new LOD face, though a familiar face, in a way. In an act billed as The King Sings the Boss, British Elvis Presley impersonator Mark Wright — sporting Elvis hair and sunglasses and a white, Elvis-in-Vegas Era jumpsuit — sang Bruce Springsteen songs in the style of Elvis.
Smartly selecting songs such as “Pink Cadillac,” “Badlands,” “Hungry Heart,” “I’m on Fire,” “Born to Run” and “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight),” Wright performed solo, with pre-recorded backing music. But he really put on a show, re-creating many of Presley’s trademark stage moves. What was most interesting, though, to me at least, was how naturally Springsteen’s lyrics worked with a Presleyesque vocal delivery.
Given Presley’s huge influence on Springsteen, that makes perfect sense. Still, it was a treat to hear this unusual concept brought to vivid life.
After performing at House of Independents, Wright appeared at another Light of Day show, at the Langosta Lounge, singing “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” with original E Street Band drummer Vini Lopez and others. Here is a video of that performance. Below that are videos of Bandiera doing “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” and D’Urso and Stone Caravan doing “Behind the Wall of Sleep” at House of Independents. And below the three videos is the Bandiera setlist.
Here is Bandiera’s setlist, with lead vocalists (when not Bandiera) in parentheses
“Mary Jane’s Last Dance”
“You Don’t Know How It Feels”
“You Got Lucky”
“I Won’t Back Down” (Jim Celestino)
“Free Fallin’ ”
“Refugee” (Lisa Sherman)
“Something in the Air” (Kristin Cochran)
“Even the Losers” (Ralph Notaro)
“Into the Great Wide Open”
“Don’t Do Me Like That”
“Learning to Fly”
“You Wreck Me”
“I Need to Know” (Sherman)
“Yer So Bad”
“Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” (Sherman and Cochran)
“Needles and Pins” (Cochran and Notaro)
“Listen to Her Heart”
“Here Comes My Girl” (Celestino)
“Runnin’ Down a Dream”