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The Blasters are most welcome back

The Paradise, Boston, Nov. 16, 2002

By Jeffrey B. Remz

BOSTON - The usual assumption of a long dormant band reuniting is that they're in it for the money. After all, look how many acts from the '70s and '80s still hit the summer shed circuit, raking in the greenbacks.

And after 16 years away from touring, The Blasters could be lumped into the same pile.

But make no mistake about it - they're not exactly in it for the money. First off, the California-based quartet never was that popular, never really rising above the club circuit.

And second, based on their new "Trouble Bound" live disc on HighTone from shows at this House of Blues in Los Angeles earlier this year and in the flesh in Boston, these guys haven't missed a beat and are not going through the motions.

The Blasters - Phil Alvin on lead vocals, Dave Alvin on guitar, John Bazz on bass and Bill Bateman on drums (pianist Gene Taylor was not present because he had a gig at boogie woogie festival in New Orleans, according to Dave Alvin) - combined their mix of roots rock, rockabilly and blues to good effect throughout the almost 100-minute show.

"Without further adieu..." said Phil Alvin at the start, and with that, The Blasters were off and running. They started the show the same way as the "Trouble Bound" CD with "Red Rose" and the title track.

And both songs were indicative of how the rest of the evening would go. For the most part, the songs were pretty fast, often furious, but not lacking in subtlety either.

Phil Alvin is a fine vocalist. His voice was easily heard above the music on each and every song without a problem. Combined with extensive facial expressions and hand motions, it is clear that Alvin is having one heck of a time up there singing the songs from the past.

And brother Dave, of course, was no slouch either. Much has been made about the brothers not getting along so well la the Gallaghers of Oasis and the Davies of Kinks (after the show, Dave Alvin threw some light fuel on the fire saying Phil had left already and claimed he had no clue where he was or what he's up to in general).

The reality of playing together seemed far different. Dave Alvin never seemed to be going through the motions with great guitar picking throughout and clearly getting into the emotion of the songs, especially set closer "American Music."

The rhythm section, especially Bateman on drums, set a steady beat throughout.

And the foursome did not merely trot out the tried and true. They played Junior Well's "Come in The House," after having barely worked it up recently with Dave's guitar in full drive and Phil letting loose on harp, which he did quite well during the evening.

The return of The Blasters shows no mold has grown on these Californians. While Dave Alvin had the last word by saying "See you all in 20 years, bye," that's highly doubtful. And based on this evening, it better not be true either.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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