(ASBURY PARK, NJ -- December 29, 2005) -- Ok, I've gotta admit that I wasn't really planning on reviewing this show but two things changed my mind. The first was hearing an interesting version of "Dancing In The Dark" come out of Jason Mather's guitar and the second was when Scott Stamper delivered the bad news.
"We're out of Yuengling until Friday," he said.
Devestated, I looked over the available taps and ordered something else. Something a bit more fancy than I usually go with. As he brought it over to me I asked quietly, "uh... are you out of Yuengling bottles too?"
Damn distributor... anyway, now that that's off of my chest lets get to the show. Jason Mather opened up the night with a set largely previewing his upcoming release, The Hottness. In between cuts like "Breaking The Chains Of Love" and "It's Cool" he provided an explosive cover of "Come Together" by the Beatles and the adventureous take of Springsteen's "Dancing In The Dark". He closed his set with the brillant "Goodbye Someday" off of his new record.
Jason is an exceptional guitarist who really brings out a 70s retro rock and roll experience to the stage. He grew up a huge fan of bands like Kiss and it's clear that he's got a little rock God in him. Fans of guitar heroes will definitely want to check him out.
After Jason's set, the beer I had been drinking just ran out and wouldn't be back until Friday as well. I swear it's almost as if somebody was telling me to quit drinking. This being New Year's and all maybe that should be my resolution. Save a kidney, save a life... nah, maybe in 2007. I may hear voices in my head, but that's one I can generally tune out.
Maybe Pete treated this show as the New Year's Eve Eve Eve show and handed out noisemakers to the crowd before getting on stage. They opened with "Hide Away" which has become their traditional opener of late. This was the fifth and final Thursday night show at the Saint for Maybe Pete in December and despite another miserable night weatherwise, the band came prepared for a killer set.
After "No One But Yourself To Blame" Frankie McGrath pulled out the harp for a wonderful take on "About This Town". And then brought the guitar back for a manic version of "Whatever You Want Me To Do" that made you wish there was more people in club to hear it. After the song somebody yelled out, "now that's rock and roll!" They were absolutely right. Maybe Pete came thundering out all night long - showing off their punk bloodlines and playing lost nuggets and new tunes for the die-hards in the audience.
A new song that doesn't seem to have a name yet was dedicated to Nikki and then "Shari Lynn" - a nugget from the band's early days was played. At this point I began to wonder exactly where this so-called blue ribbon that my beer had won was. I don't believe there is such a ribbon. False advertising. Cheap beer, but false advertising. Thankfully, Maybe Pete saved me by playing a gorgeous version of "Not This Time" with Kelli McGrath on mandolin and more harp from Frankie.
Then came the song that should have been nominated for an Asbury Music Award as song of the year - "Somehow". Dedicated to Lisa, the song featured just Frankie on acoustic guitar and Kelli on mandolin. In this format, the song took on a totally different feel. There's just something great about watching those two alone on stage - Bruce and Patti have serious competition for top rock couple in Jersey!
It was then time for Frankie to hold up the clock and get everyone to celebrate it being close to close to New Year's Eve! After the noisemakers, the band flew into "Ours For The Taking" as their last number. The crowd rewarded them with a pair of encores and they got "Close Enough For Rock and Roll" (a version last night that would have made ANY punk band proud) and the brilliant "Exit 140A".
Scott Stamper once again showed his class by taking the mic to thank Maybe Pete for their residency in July (sponsored by Upstage :) ) and their residency in December and asked them for one more song. Scott's reward was an incredible take on Neil Young's "Rockin' In The Free World" that the band plays on occasion. They really should drag it out more. It's a killer cover for them.
Maybe Pete's energy seemed to rise with each song. Even though this was a fake New Year's Eve show, they showed that they would be a cool choice for such a night. Maybe next year somebody will ask them to play on December 31st. I can't think of a better way to rock in the new year.
Click here for pictures from the show.
Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.