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Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Sons & Heirs, Dead Letter Office- Gramercy Theater

Cover Me Impressed,
By Rich Rickaby

The Sons & Heirs (Smith/Morrissey Tribute Band)
Dead Letter Office (R.E.M. Tribute Band)
Gramercy Theater
07/15/17
Is that R.E.M. on stage at The Gramercy? 

I've heard that tribute bands are big in L.A. I've heard a slew of cover bands just by walking down Bourbon Street in New Orleans but Tributes are different. They're there for us to revel in and remind us how we would act when playing albums and singing/yelling and dancing/performing in our Rock and Roll bedrooms, home alone everywhere to the music they emulate.

I was surprised I didn't hear of this event sooner. The Gramercy has become a bit of a Tribute Band House. Wild Child-Doors, Zeppelin II-Led Zeppelin and I think there's been a Pink Floyd band there as well. The Machine? Brit Floyd?. All have been satisfying and at this point, it might be better than seeing the real thing. Not all rockers keep their chops and even if they still had their chops, I've heard stories about the random success of Doors' concerts, so it's a comfort to know that the show you pay for and made an evening for will happen rather than worrying about which Jim is going to show up.

Dead Letter Office, named for R.E.M.'s album of B-Sides was a 5-man line up so they could draw from a range of R.E.M. eras. That's what it says in their bio at least. I was surprised at some of their selection as I'm a big fan of R.E.M. but I don't know the last time I heard them play "Radio Free Europe." They seemed to stay with the catalog up to Document. I'm sure they have plenty in their repertoire but being the opening act will limit your time. Still, they did not play, "Man in the Moon, Losing My Relgion, Pop Song '89, Radio Song, Stand, End of the World, Everybody Hurts, Drive." Don't get me wrong, the set was great, I was somewhat surprised it wasn't a Greatest Hits rundown. This was for fans!

Chris Sanchirico, their Michael Stipe, has the voice, moves and knitted cap of the original. Well done, well sung and lots of fun.

David Sommerville, their Peter Buck, handled all the guitar parts with shimmering clarity.

Chuck Eaton, their Mike Mills, handled the bass with aplomb. Mike was one of the actual trained musicians when R.E.M. started and his bass lines are not to be ignored.

Scott Ryan, their Bill Berry, played the drums that gave away some of the intros or counted out the intro attack.

David Shahin, their Scott McCaughey, brought in whatever was needed for any song: Keys, Guitars, Bass.

All members backed on vocals as well.

If you like R.E.M. see Dead Letter Office.

Setlist from their incredible show:

Begin the Begin
Finest Worksong
Second Guessing
These Days
Fall on Me
Disturbance at the Heron House
Driver 8
Harborcoat
Feeling Gravitys Pull
Life and How to Live It
Gardening at Night
Orange Crush
The One I Love
Radio Free Europe
It's a celebration of the music. 


The Sons & Heirs takes the stage next. If you like The Smiths/ Morrissey, I recommend you see The Sons & Heirs.

Sons & Heirs- They sound as good as they look. 
Ronnissey, their Morrissey, has the moves and the sound down and gleefully, and by gleefully I mean in a Morrissonian way, spars with the audience. Encouragement sounds like a back handed compliment but, like with Morrissey, it's cheeky and if you're offended then you stumbled into the wrong show.

Johnny Marr has some pretty big shoes to fill, I mean, as several shirts displayed, he's "Johnny Fucking Marr," so it's impressive that anyone can keep up with that smokey fingered wonder, but keep up Ravi Marr did, though there were some times when you knew Ravi had to laser in because you gotta be on your toes no matter how well you fill the shoes. Great job Ravi.

Fredo Rourke, these names are from their FB Page, I'm not making them up but as you may suspect, he was their bass player and sometimes you knew the song before the lyrics because the bass line was taking you there.

Flax Joyce drummed away an energetic set.

And yes, longtime Morrissey drummer, Spencer was there.
Special performance by Spencer Corbrin with The Sons & Heirs 
Ronnissey was constantly throwing long stemmed flowers out into the audience. They were eventually being thrown back and there was even one girl who made it up onto the stage to give Ronnissey a peck on the cheek before returning to the crowd. I couldn't tell if that was sincere fun and games or a plant for part of the show. If you've ever seen the real thing then you know that one person is not enough. Morrissey would be swarmed with literal hanger-ons.

The overall show started at 9 so at 12:01 Ronnissey announced, "Well, it's Sunday now." So we went wild, knowing that "Every Day Is Like Sunday" would be next.

Below are songs I remember they played, in no particular order.

Again, if you like The Smiths and Morrissey, skip, don't walk to see them.
Owning it in New York City. 

But if you see any tribute band playing that may interest you, check them out and support the live music scene.

Songs:
Panic
Hand In Glove
How Soon Is Now?
Rusholme Ruffians
Every Day Is Like Sunday
Shoplifters of the World Unite
Is It Really So Strange
Ask
Asleep
The Boy With The Thorn In His Side
The Last of the International Playboy

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