Saturday, January 23, 2010

Thornley - One Month Later '98

Tradewinds... Sea Bright, NJ... Sat., Feb. 28, 1998

I’m Baaack! On Feb. 28th I went to see Big Wreck open for Creed at the Tradewinds in NJ. It’s a huge, sprawling club setup for indoor-outdoor partying.

The crowd was a typical Jersey mix of drunks, barely legal teens, mid forties old farts like me and a preponderance of knuckleheaded grunge metal "dudes". From my perspective only a small percentage of the 2000 or so people at the show even heard of Big Wreck.

My brother and I, (now a huge BW fan) took the spartan approach, no drinking and or other distractions, and positioned ourselves 15 feet from the stage dead center. We suffered through the opening act like cattle. BW hit the stage 10:45 with "Look what I found". The first time I saw them I knew none of the music, this time I could and did sing along (annoying, I know, I just couldn’t help it). The song ripped, sounded thicker and stronger than I remembered. The band looked loose, at ease and on a mission to win over this crowd. The song has great time changes, dynamics and is sure to be a classic. I’m not a good reviewer because I’m primarily there to enjoy (dance, sing, jump, shout) the band, so forgive the loss of detail.

Most of the crowd seemed stunned, and a little lost since the song has a little bit more than the usual 1 2 3. The sentiment of the song, to me, seems to cut on bands like Creed, pretty ironic eh? Ian ended with a furious slide "hoedown".

Next was "That song", destined to be a sing along classic in an arena. They really emoted on this one, Ian’s vocals were dead on, the crunch balanced against the quiet refrain of the solo His vocals were stunning. "Blown wide open" was thick, fat, comfortable and majestic, a real anthem. The metaphor is humorous, and the band had fun with it. Ian Thornely is a real personality. He reminds me of early Prince or Billy Idol, in a way, playful and explosive yet always 
with a twinkle in his eye and a curl to his lip.

By the way did I mention the rest of the band? Bouncy, unrushed and dead-on with the stop-time dynamics of these songs. It was most evident on the next song, "How would you know". From the jangly beginning to the "if what you need is what you got..." part, this song expanded and has become quite the showcase. Ian even forgot the second verse, and 
laughingly blew off the mistake, with a furious jam. In the middle of the song they expanded into a whole new riff, sure to be a new song, tremendous! This reminds me of another little band that I heard do "Southbound Suarez" in the middle of "No Quarter" on the ‘75 tour, a full two years before it actually became a song on an album. I love a band that takes chances, how interesting!

Ian then went solo with a loose slide guitar jam, including "amazing grace". This sonic call and response, journey was done without the band, centerstage, tons of echo, deep bass sounds balanced with haunting echo extended emotional vocals that were reminiscent of an erie Elvis Costello song on his "Mighty like a Rose" album. Actually, Ian’s pleading, emotional singing reminds me of EC quite a bit. Elvis Costello meets Jimmy Hendrix, I swear!!!

"Between you and I" was next and it cooked. I love that line, " It never was your fault, the wind just seemed to carry the spit your way" and he carried it off with the proper vitriol. 

Ian then reminded the crowd how much he appreciated them (Jersey audience and all), evidently they have played here before. He comes off very gentle, genuine and sincere. He told us not to forget to welcome Creed, with a sly grin on his face, knowing they had won over quite a few new fans. Amidst a smattering of boos, at the mention of Creed they announced "Through the cracks". This was in the "whole lotta love vein, complete with cacophonous final jam. Broken strings, lost time, out of sync everyone doing their own thing, makes no sense, find the hook finish with a flourish, awesome, draining performance and they were gone.

People around us were impressed, one guy talked about how he couldn’t take the CD out of his player because all the songs are one better than the other. I still think that most of the music was over peoples’ heads’ but it is inevitable, this band will hook ya. The songs are just too good, too dynamic, too melodious, and too real to be ignored. I can’t wait to see them in a concert hall setting, it couldn’t happen too soon.

Big Wreck, big time! thanx fer lettin me share
-- buk

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