SEA BRIGHT, N.J. -- Maybe there's still a place for musical heroes on the New Jersey Shore.
Gone are the legendary days of small Springsteen crowds or a young Jon Bongiovi sweeping floors across the Hudson at the Powerstation recording studio. In fact, New Jersey hasn't had a new musical hero since the heyday of the 1980s, where spandex was just as important to crafting a sound as electric
However, through the saving grace of local radio and an active
area concert promoter, several bands from other lands have built tremendous fan bases in the Garden State. England's Catherine Wheel, which made at least its sixth stop on the Camaro Coast since 1991 last Saturday, is one of them.
Performing at the Tradewinds Nightclub in picturesque Sea Bright, the
Wheel circled through nearly two hours of ambience, topped off with a
chilling, 12-minute rendition of "Black Metallic," the 1992 hit which
launched their American career. A thousand or so scenesters, jocks and alt.rock junkies enjoyed 120 minutes of pure atmosphere -- a thunderous evening of rock 'n' roll, heavy on the glossy guitar, synthesized tone chords and lead singer Rob Dickinson's airy vocals.
The lengthy show gave Catherine Wheel the time to perform most of Adam &
Eve, their fifth and latest album. Opening with the ethereal "Future
Boy," Dickinson swayed from side to side, clenching his guitar and gritting his teeth, displaying the song's pain. "You could be my future boy," he whispered, and soon ripped into the band's current single, the poppy "Delicious." The melodic "I Want To Touch You" set the crowd afire, as guitarist Brian Futter’s opening riffs leapt into drummer Neil Sims' pounding bass drum.
Though the mood of the night was easily comparable to a lower-scale Pink Floyd performance, when Dickinson popped into the opening chords of that band's classic "Wish You Were Here" (which Catherine Wheel covered on Like Cats and Dogs, their B-sides compilation), he smirked and remarked that he'd forgotten the rest. The band made up for it by ripping into "Texture," the jagged guitar and keyboard landscape which appeared on their 1992 debut, Ferment.
The next blast was "Crank," from the band's 1993 Chrome. Beneath
bassist Dave Hawes' slight strum, Futter and Dickinson traded string
barbs -- Dickinson with a footful of effect pedals and Futter with a
straight-up pop of sound.
On "Here Comes The Fat Controller," drummer Sims' percussion effects sound like a rocket launch; by the time the band came down, the show was over, with a bottom-heavy, 12-minute slap of "Black Metallic," and "Way Down," Catherine Wheel's 1996 grunge hit.
Though Catherine Wheel's anthemic booms felt strange in the beach-front
venue (it's painted in pastels, with a haven of fake palm trees and
heated pools outlining the perimeter), the screaming crowd made up for the lack of surroundings.
And after two hours of celestial emanation, the Disney-esque postcard of a nightclub became an oasis. And Catherine Wheel soundtracked the journey. Perfectly. [Wed., Sept. 17, 1997, 9 a.m. PST]