with The Sh-Booms and The Pauses
Will’s Pub / Orlando, FL • (7.27.17)
by Christopher Long
“My hair looks like shit right now,” Mizz Bren declared posthaste, as she took the stage at 9:30 with her brass-driven R&B combo, The Sh-Booms. Beaming Chaka-like charm, and filled with Fontella-fueled fire, the fabulous front-woman led the Orlando-based troupe through a dirty, sweaty and authentically soulful 30-minute set. “We’re so honored to be part of tonight’s show,” Bren confessed to the standing-room-only early bird crowd, leading into the smooth-groovin’ “Mexico.”
The onstage chemistry between Bren and the band’s charismatic founding bassist, Al Ruiz was playful and engaging, as the seven-piece collective sliced through the popular video single, “Usage.” Clearly all “hot ‘n’ bothered,” by the band’s bona fide badness, Bren parted with her scrunchy and sent her earrings flying during “Audible” – a show-closing moment in which I became so “invested” personally, it was the closest I’d ever come to an “encounter” without having to pay someone’s cab fare. Hey! Anybody got a cigarette?
The standard in-between-set switch-out morphed quickly into a cluster – a 30-plus-minute diversion during which The Pauses (or is it Pauseses) members tiptoed onstage around strewn instruments, wrestled with tipsy amplifiers, and negotiated piles of spaghetti-like cords. Finally, the popular trio took the stage – at around 10:45.
“We’re The Pauses. And we’re gonna play you some new songs,” announced the studious-looking bassist / keyboardist / vocalist and… emotionalist, Tierney Tough at the top of the set. Sporting black horn-rimmed glasses and a ball cap with a dress shirt and neck tie, guitarist / keyboardist Jason Kupfer resembled a dapper cross between Elvis Costello and Angus Young, while drummer Nathan Chase also proved a formidable force. Hailing officially from “Mickeytown, USA” (per Bandcamp), the group was actually on tour with Cindy Wilson and seemed jazzed about playing in front of a hometown crowd.
“Absolutely mesmerizing” is perhaps the best description of a live Cindy Wilson concert experience. Given her impeccable 40-year reputation as an innovative singer / songwriter / artist, it should have come as no surprise to anyone in attendance that Wilson’s all-new “Change” show was a fresh, invigorating and hypnotic production.
Accompanied by her world-class, four-piece band, the 60-year-old pop music icon delivered a performance that was refreshingly live – a 45-minute set that featured “Mystic,” the pulsating lead-off single from her upcoming Change album, as well as such previously released synth-driven numbers as “Take My Time” and “Brother.”
Dressed head-to-toe in Johnny Cash-inspired basic black (boots, jeans, leather jacket and shades), Wilson smiled sweetly from start to finish while nursing a semi-crushed can of Coors Light. Offering little to no banter, the B-52’s co-founder opted instead to merely let her music do the talking. However, she did engage just enough to reveal her signature “tin roof,” Georgia-bred twang.
Sadly, the event was a bittersweet affair, as an emotional Wilson dedicated the show to Billy Manes – a popular figure on the Orlando scene who had passed away just a few days earlier from complications brought on by pneumonia.
In sum, the Cindy Wilson show was simply superb. The music was fun and exciting, while the synchronized onstage videos truly enhanced the presentation. As for her band – drummer Lemuel Hayes, bassist / guitarist Suny Lyons, bassist / guitarist Ryan Monahan, and violinist Marie Davon – world-class, indeed. Kudos, all around!