Saturday, April 16, 2011

November 5, 2010 Nini and Ben & Air Traffic Controller

Wednesday’s show at Acoustic Long Island was non-stop entertainment. Nini and Ben had driving sound that kept the audience moving. Nini had a wonderful voice, filled with passion and intensity. The band was excellent. The peddle steel guitar, I thought might overwhelm the audience, but was tasteful. The percussionist was talented. I thought that the base player rounded things out even though she hid behind the band. Ben, the song writer, remained the shyest front man yet. Personally, after a while the songs all blended into each and I was hoping for more variety. But Nini had a mixture of Bonnie Raitt and Emmylou Harris in her voice. Of course, when I checked out the inside of the album cover I wished I were young again. When you compare their performance to their album, the group really remained true to what they set out to do in the studio. I’m not sure if it’s folk-rock or country without the twang, but Nini had a palpable stage presence and professionalism. They set up, they played, they left.

Don’t base Air Traffic Controller on their CD that pales by comparison to their live act.  Dave Munro acts as if he’s already made it. He’s got that sense of showmanship and artistry that you can’t ignore. His keyboardist is really the genius behind the music. The group much in the vein of Frank Zappa was completely scripted which works as performance, but never allows those breakout moments. The addition of the string quartet was amazing in the Electric Light Orchestra tradition. Considering that there was no base player or percussionist, they were really tightly wound. I think that the audience was blown away and amazed, but Nini, by comparison, actually got the audience to tap their feet and dance to the music. Dave’s songs were quirky, almost like some of the Beatles numbers with his version of George Martin in the keyboardist making it all happen. Don’t Tell Me What to Do was too derivative, but Bad Axe was actually my favorite song. This Road I enjoyed but on the CD I found it so so. It loses what he created for us at Deepwells in the live performance. So see Air Traffic Controller live and in living color.

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