The latest iteration of Morphine, The Ever Expanding Elastic Waste Band, came through town last night, but i wouldn’t be surprised if you missed it. Currently featuring sax man extraordinaire Dana Colley and the man with the silver touch on the skins, Jerome Deupree, from the original Morphine, with Jeremy Lyons taking over guitar/bass and vocal duties, there was little fanfare preceding the appearance. If not for the keen eyes of a friend and mutual Morphine addict, i wouldn’t have known about the show myself.
As luck would have it, that aforementioned friend and her clan actually are pretty tight with the band, so much so that Colley actually gave them a shout out from the stage. i only bring this up to point out that they told me the tour was not going particularly well, with the night before’s show in Pittsburgh being cancelled outright, i believe for lack of audience interest. Now, as far as i’m concerned, you’d have to be a damned fool not to see Dana, Jerome and a lamp post, but to each, their own, i suppose. So i’m not sure if the band would benefit from a healthy dose of PR (and i know a great agency that would do it for damn near free), but i definitely can say they’ve chosen better venues in the past.
Last night was my first visit to the Velvet Lounge, and instead of detailing all the problems with that place, i’ll just point out that the upstairs “club” is made up of loose plywood. i kept worrying that if anyone so much as farted, the entire room would collapse. But enough of this meaningless background crap, how was the show?
As with Twinemen, A.K.A.C.O.D., Orchestra Morphine and every other version of the band, this one did not disappoint. Colley continues to do things with a saxophone that border on the inhuman, whether its coaxing otherwordly notes or playing two saxes at once, the man is a force of nature. Deupree seems to have a completely different understanding of percussion than most others. He doesn’t beat the skins, he tickles and teases them in a manner that is all at once jazzy, ethereal, otherworldly and muddy clean. The two remain masters of the Morphine sound.
Enough of this, the real question is how’s the new guy? While Lyons lacks the deeper registers of Mark Sandman, his subdued stylings fit the band to a tee. His Delta blues background seems to go hand in hand with the Bostonian band’s ethos.
Unfortunately, the band only got to play about an hour (even though we had been told by the house that they would have at least an hour and a half) due to an ill planned show afterwards at the club. While owning the stage, however, they played mostly Morphine’s hits, including “Pulled Over the Car,” “Let’s Take a Trip Together,” “Yes,” “Head with Wings,” “Fur Bikini,” and the obviously appropriate “Thursday.” They also did a blues cover and one of Lyon’s own compositions, but i don’t know his catalogue well enough (yet) to recall exactly which track that was. While the familiar beginnings of the songs had the crowd singing along almost immediately, the band still has recrafted the songs enough to give them a new and different light. And, of course, Colley interspersed his deadpan wit between songs. Most important of all, though, they all looked like they actually were enjoying themselves, even though they were playing to a house of 35 people max in a club in danger of falling down while they played. And for that, the evening was all the more spectacular.
i also picked up a copy of their brand new CD, Members of Morphine with Jeremy Lyons. You know i’d normally put up a couple of tracks for your listening pleasure, but the band requested i don’t, so, natch, i won’t. i can say it’s your loss, though, so get off your ass and pick up a copy for yourself. While the covers and Lyons originals are stellar, it’s the instrumental jams on here that will blow wind up your skirt. Seriously, don’t sleep on this one, kids.