It's been MANY years, but legendary guitarist Frank Marino and his band Mahogany Rush returned to NYC on 6/5/2005 for a stunning performance at BB King's.
Sea of Tranquility's Mike Blackburn and Pete Pardo were in attendance, and report back on this charged up night of guitar pyrotechnics. Mike also had a chance to chat with the one and only Frank Marino, who shared some thoughts on the tour and the NYC show.
"It's been a long time, a real long time since we've been in NY, my favorite city in the world". Thus spoke Frank Marino after the first song, really after the first two songs, "Voodoo Chile" and "Maybe It's Time" which were meshed together into a twenty plus minute extravaganza!!! So started the evening which was by its completion, a 200 plus minute display of sheer bombastic virtuosic musicianship… Self indulgent just like the seventies? Hell yeah, but bring it on baby! This was actually Frank's first show in New York since 1988 and boy was he missed, the appreciative crowd gave him a standing ovation with pretty much every song.
BB King Blues Club
I said to Frank: "This band has a very daunting task; they must live up to the very high standard of excellence in live performing you have established with (Montreal)RealLive! (Frank's recent double live CD)
"Well, since we did it in the first place, I feel we can live up to it, even if we change some things now and then. And we may have to do just that pretty soon. But we'll just pick up where it already is and try to make it as good as we can. In fairness, this was our first two shows in almost two years. So, under those circumstances, I think we pulled it off pretty good, and we don't rehearse. If we play more, it can only improve."
When asked how the feeling and experience of being on the road was agreeing with him after all these years Frank said:
Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush
"I love the road, mainly cuz I bring my family. It's kind of like a working vacation, and I could do it all year and not get tired of it, I think."
So all you promoters and clubs out there, the man WANTS to be on the road all the time let's make it happen!
I asked Frank to comment on the severe security measures (by my standard for a small club) in place at BB Kings. He replied: "I'd rather not comment on it publicly if you don't mind. I want to find the time to talk about it on my site first."
Will there be any other North American dates either before or after the UK mini-tour?
"As of now, the only other North American date is this summer opening for Z.Z. Top at the outdoor concert on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City" So Canadian fans, better get out there even though it will likely only be a regular length set.
Time was limited and so the last comment I made to Frank was: "Frank I really enjoyed the show, I was particularly blown away by your "Indian" vibrato soloing and your non-slide slide work! I was sure you must have one of those half-slide ring things but no, once again talented fingers, bending and vibrato! Extremely cool! Overall tone and vibe just superb! Loved the whole band, glad Josh is back, he looks more and more like Josh Groban all the time LMAO, and particular kudos to Avi (guitar/violin), on what must surely have been some very intimidating moments for the young man, well done!"
"Well, I'm really glad you did like it, especially the things you mentioned, cuz they're my favorite parts too. Josh is back, but only temporarily it seems. We'll be looking around at that situation in the next few days, I would imagine. Avi is great. I love him as a player and a person. I hope we're together for a long time, and that we do a lot of interesting things. We've got a few more surprises coming, musically. I'll wait on that, though. Don't want to get ahead of myself."
Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush
The other highlight of the evening for me, was Frank and the band paying tribute to the men and women of the armed forces with "Stories of a Hero." The song is timeless, and truly touches our hearts.The crowd was truly moved, I thought I saw a tear or two. By playing that tune, especially now, Frank again shows us what kind of man he is, honoring the living and the dead, lest we ever forget. It was played with such total emotion; it sent shivers down my spine.
Voodoo Child/Something's Coming Our Way/Maybe it's Time. (21:00)
The Answer (6:00)
Midnight Highway (4:00)
Red House (12:00)
He's Callin' (12:00)
Poppy (approx 30:00) combining She's not There, In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, and
Stories of a Hero (13:00)
Strange Universe (24:00)
Rock N Roll Hall of Fame (with Josh's drum solo and the bass solo as well) (8:00),
World Anthem, 3rd Stone from the Sun (10:00)
Guitar Wars/Electric Reflections (11:00)
The Emperor/Tomorrow Never Knows (3:00)
Try for Freedom (10:00).
All times are estimates. What a show!!!!
Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush
Commentary from Pete Pardo-Well, the ironic thing for me is I have been a fan of Frank Marino since I was about 14 or so (quite a long time ago) and have never had the pleasure of seeing him live. This show at BB King's was a revelation of sorts for me, an affirmation of just how talented this musician is, and the performance left me in awe and speechless. Frank Marino and his band played with passion, grace, and tons of technical expertise. There's not a guitarist alive who plays with as much emotion and stunning chops as Frank does, and if you thought his talents were mindblowing 20 years ago, believe me he has only gotten better with age. Songs like "Stories of a Hero", "Rock n Roll Hall of Fame", "Poppy", and "He's Calling" combined elements of hard rock, psychedelia, blues, and jazz perfectly. There was really something for every Marino fan tonight, as he played songs from throughout his career (see Mike's set list above) and even surprised me with "Dragonfly" and "The Answer", two of my favorites from the early years. Apparently, Frank has recently posted on his message board that there was all sorts of technical problems with the amps that night, but that was all but invisible to the fans, as this was one of the best sounding shows at BB Kings in quite some time, with Frank's guitar solos soaring into the night. If you are a rock and roll fan, and have 3 hours to spare, check out Frank Marino if he comes to your town...you'll be glad you did!
Photos courtesy of Pete Pardo and Jamey from the Frank Marino Message Board (thanks Jamey!)