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Articles Home » Interviews » New England and John Fannon - 2013 Live (Gig Review)
New England and John Fannon - 2013 Live (Gig Review)
John Fannon/New England - Live June 22/23, 2013

Written By: Explorer (Malcolm Smith)
Date: July 14, 2013

It's difficult to be objective when writing about your favourite band and even more so when your favourite band and its erstwhile lead vocalist/songwriter get together for a weekend to promote said lead vocalists new CD. With an intimate solo gig on the first night, and then for the whole band to get together the following night to blast away all comers in a storming 40 minute set that has this reviewer grinning like the cat who had well and truly got the cream.

I had nearly given up hope of seeing New England live, but the fortunate timing of John Fannon's CD release show and a full band reunion in the same weekend was too good a chance to pass up, so a trip across the Atlantic and a breathless weekend in Boston beckoned.

The first nights gig was at Club Passim, a small club situated in Cambridge on the outskirts of Boston, holding no more than 150. It promised to be an evening of great songs with a few surprises along the way. With the audience made up of family, friends and fans, John had an attentive and enthusiastic audience.

This was essentially a one man show with John utilising technology to embellish his sound. A mixture of songs from John's excellent 'Saved All The Pieces' CD and New England favourites were performed sometimes with John on acoustic guitar and others having the sound beefed up with the use of backing tracks. The surprises on offer were (of course) the appearance of fellow New Englanders Hirsh Gardner, Gary Shea, and Jimmy Waldo who at times provided a sublime backing for John, particularly on tracks such as 'Nothing To Fear', 'Explorer Suite' and 'Don't Ever Wanna Lose Ya'.

center>John Fannon live, June 22, Club Passim, Cambridge, MA
The evening proved to be a relaxed but joyful return to the stage of four friends who in the past had made some of the greatest AOR (in my opinion anyway) and still, based on this evidence have plenty more to offer. All four band members proved to be excellent raconteurs keeping the audience entertained with colourful stories from the bands' past. Personal highlights from the show for me were a stunning solo version of 'Hope' from the 'Explorer Suite' album and an impromptu version of 'Conversation' from the same album with all four members of the band mingling with the audience as the song took shape. The show ended with all band members taking their bows to a rapturous and standing ovation, and afterwards were happy to mix with everyone to sign vintage album covers (well it was 30 years ago) and pose for numerous photos. If I had gone all that way for this one show I would have come away more than satisfied. But there was more to come.

The full electric version of New England took the stage the following night in support of 'The Channel Reunion' which was a coming together of various Boston bands that had played at the legendary Channel Club in the late 70's/early 80's and was also supporting the 'right turn recovery' programme. This extremely well run event being the brainchild of Robin Lowe Moran who worked at the club back in its heyday who had the idea of capturing the magic of the local Boston music scene back then. Alongside New England, were such Boston luminaries as Jon Butcher, Robin Lane, The Stompers, The Fools and Charlie Farren who all produced sets of fun/mature classic rock, but the band that I was essentially there for were New England, who came to the stage at around 8.30 and promptly delivered a set of classic AOR. A majestic opening salvo of 'Alone Tonight' and 'Shoot', and with all four band members immediately getting into their stride the set had got off to a perfect start. This was followed by 'Hello, Hello, Hello' which showcased the bands tight harmonies and clever interplay between guitar and keyboards. Next up, a full throttle version of 'L5' which showed that this band can still rock, but the piece de resistance was yet to come 'Explorer Suite' the title track of the band's second album was the true highlight of the set. With the vocals shared by John and Hirsh, and John and Jimmy both on keyboards and Gary's bass locking in the bottom end this song took on epic proportions, this was a 8 minute pomp/prog rock feast executed with precision and dexterity.. an absolute delight, and to finish the set the ubiquitous 'Don't Ever Wanna Lose Ya' of course New England's top 40 hit from '79. All in all, a stunning set from a classic band.

New England live, June 23, Club Royale, Boston, MA

One minor grumble though, at 40 minutes long the set was too short but with a tight schedule to work to on the night there was no chance of an encore. As with the first night afterwards the band was happy to meet fans and pose for photographs. For this reviewer at least this was a truly memorable weekend that will live long in the memory. There is a real possibility of both shows (or at least portions of them) appearing sometime soon as a live CD and the band seem open to doing something new together in the future. So New England may still have a new chapter to write.. I know I'll be reading.

If anyone out wants to see and hear for themselves the welcome return of New England there is plenty of footage of both gigs out there on Youtube..go on treat yourself you know you want to.

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#1 | gdazegod on July 16 2013 05:02:57
There's a lot of bald headed blokes in that second picture. That is a very bad sign of our agedness.. lol!
#2 | Eric on July 16 2013 18:02:47
Based on this review, I would have loved to have seen this gig.
#3 | AOR Lee on July 16 2013 18:12:54
What a pleasure to read this review. Well done Explorer, for the way you conveyed a magical weekend of music to us
#4 | Explorer on July 16 2013 19:08:54
Thanks for that Lee,it was truly an awesome weekend.Hopefully the band will keep the momentum going and get some new material out soon.
#5 | Nick C on July 17 2013 23:35:27
Nice review...really pleased you got to see them. Brilliant!
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