Fulks: a fine musical force
TT The Bears, Cambridge, Mass., July 10, 1999
By Jeffrey B. Remz
CAMBRIDGE, MA - Start with plaintive singing on touching ballads and honky tonkers, add some rock, good pacing, a healthy dose of cynicism into the mix and even Seventies music, and what do you have?
Oh, just another fine performance from Robbie Fulks.
Fulks has a reputation for always being lively and full of energy, and this show was no exception. Despite being affected by an often muddy sound system, Fulks and band offered enough musical and singing chips during their 65 minutes to help make listeners understand why Fulks has enjoyed such a good reputation, among the cognoscenti anyway.
The commercial front has been his problem. After a few discs on Bloodshot, Fulks went major label with last year's "Let's Kill Saturday Night," a more rocking effort. He now is negotiating his release from the Geffen/Interscope label and returning to Bloodshot for his next disc.,
Fulks seems to get so excited sometimes, he goes into overdrive which means oversinging, but he sure can put emotion into a song too ("Barely Human" about a down-and-outer, the kind of song you ought to be able to hear a pin drop). He has a strong, supple voice, capable of crossing musical genres.
The jokester in the Chicagoan served up Abba's "Dancing Queen" as a non-country treat and a rocked up version of the title track of his last disc, "Let's Kill Saturday Night," but it's on songs like "Rock Bottom Population 1" and "The Buck Starts Here" that Fulks excels by showing his real love and adeptness at country.
Fulks tossed a few new songs into the set list. His look at the rockabilly crowd "Roots Rock Weirdos" poking fun at their black leather jackets and tatoos may have been right on target.
A very strong backing band, including ex-Sonia Dada Grant Tye on guitar, Lorne Rall on bass and Dan Massey on drums, certainly helped.
Yes, he certainly can be humorous both verbally, lyrically and in song selection, but cutting through this is one fine musical force.