Live Review: Nigels With Attitude, The REMakes @ The EARL, November 24

[ 0 ] November 25, 2009 |

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By Scott Roberts; photo by Sue
Volkert

Tribute bands are fascinating
entities to consider. What compels a group of musicians, who generally begin
their rock and roll journeys by incorporating their admired influences into
their own visions hoping to forge something new and fresh, to throw that idea
out the window and decide to exclusively mine the catalog of one band instead
of playing their own music? In the cases of Nigels With Attitude, an XTC
tribute band led by seasoned Atlanta-and-beyond veterans Tim Smith and Peter
Stroud, and The REMakes, well-respected producer/musician Geoff Melkonian’s
tribute to the “early catalogue” of R.E.M., the answer is probably that
learning and playing the music of these respective bands is a fun and temporary
labor of love.

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The REMakes opened their set with the rollicking “Million” from R.E.M.’s
debut EP Chronic Town, then proceeded
to make their way through well-worn favorites as “So. Central Rain” and “Driver
8” along with such lesser known album tracks as “Second Guessing” and “Life And
How To Live It.” The trio (Melkonian on guitar and vocal, Jeff Rosenberg on
bass, and Webb Vandiver on drums) played with a workmanlike bar band ability,
but sadly only occasionally (“Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars)” and “Can’t Get
There From Here”) brought the originality and spark that made R.E.M. unique. As
enjoyable as it was to hear these songs live in a club, Melkonian only seemed
to try a few times to recreate the Michael Stipe growl (but not the mumble),
and though he had the Rickenbacker, he sorely lacked the Peter Buck jangle. Nwa5

When Nigels With Attitude (a clever nod to both the XTC song “Making
Plans For Nigel” and a well-known rap act with the same initials) began their
set with the exuberant and appropriate “This Is Pop” from XTC’s debut White Music, two things were glaringly
obvious: this band could play, and their love of XTC shone brightly. Smith
and Stroud were ably aided by the core of the recently disbanded Y-O-U
(especially singer/multi-instrumentalist Nick Niespodziani) on such faves as
“Senses Working Overtime,” “Mayor of Simpleton” and “Statue of Liberty” and
the nearly-full EARL crowd were impressed and appreciative. And though the band
didn’t extend their level of dedication to include visuals (no bald heads a la
Andy Partridge or prominent overbites a la Colin Moulding), the attention to
detail of the often musically complex arrangements of the mostly studio-centric
XTC was truly remarkable.

Though neither band will likely go the way of, say, Rain, a Beatles
tribute band made up of four New Jersey musicians who sound, dress, and talk
like the Fab Four (and are so popular that they recently played five nights at The
Fox!), both provided an entertaining night out and a rare trip back in time.

Category: Live Reviews

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