Sunday, October 24, 2010

Beaver County Times (PA) concert review

Felice Brothers win me over
By: Scott Tady, Times Entertainment Editor Beaver County Times
Sunday October 24, 2010 12:01 AM

I will preface this review by noting that a few fans told me this was one of the worst shows the band ever played -digger

Before his lecture five months ago in Midland, I asked London music critic Neil McCormick to pick his five favorite concerts ever.

McCormick, of The Daily Telegraph, chose a couple of U2 shows, a 1978 concert by Elvis Costello & the Attractions, and a 1996 outdoor gig by Oasis that turned into a 200,000-person sing-along.

No surprises there.

But I was caught off guard by McCormick’s fifth pick, the Felice Brothers.

Really, the Felice Brothers?

You mean that 4-year-old alt-country band from upstate New York that began its career busking in the New York subway?

I own the Felice Brothers’ 2009 album, “Yonder is the Clock,” and deem it good but not spectacular. Though, I trust McCormick, so I motored to Millvale last Monday to check out the Felice Brothers live at Mr. Small’s Theatre.

At first I wasn’t getting it. The Felice Brothers seemed like any number of mildly twangy bands providing a good-intentioned mix of old-timey music with an alternative-rock edge. But then about three songs in, the Felice Brothers hit their stride, or at least won me over, with a series of songs where shifting dynamics built to a tumultuous and tantalizing climax of fiddle, drums, accordion, bass and guitar.

The results were foot-tapping and almost breathtaking. Singer-guitarist Ian Felice displayed a vintage Dylan-esque charm, while his mates, including brother James Felice on accordion and organ, must have listened to every record by The Band.

The two Felice siblings, along with fiddle player Greg Farley and singularly named bassist Christmas, stood four abreast on stage, evenly flanked with drummer David Turbeville. I liked that look, with the drummer seated sideways at a front corner of the stage eye-level with his bandmates, rather than behind them on a riser.

The Felice Brothers didn’t gab much, though they picked a few choice moments for interactive dialogue with fans, notably when a beer-guzzling wag in the back of the crowd shouted out that the band’s hometown team, the New York Yankees, were losing.

“How are the Pirates doing?” fired back James Felice with impeccable timing and a trace of a smile to soften the blow.

One of my top-five concerts ever?

Not even close.

But the Felice Brothers might sneak into the top half of my Top-10 concerts of 2010.

I’ve got them penciled in at No. 5, in a tie with the Low Anthem.