C. J. Walsh
Moonalice - Infinity Hall - Norfolk, CT 2014
Relix readers will recall Big Steve Parish as Jerry Garcia’s personal roadie, bodyguard and sometime manager. Among other duties for Moonalice he is also master of ceremonies, this evening’s show had him sharing some of his knowledge of ichthyology. “Fish have in their body receptor sites for cannabis because they smoked seaweed….” Modern science may never catch up with him.
With influences from psychedelic rock to Jackie Gleason (“to the moon, Alice!”), this San Francisco band has been diligently building their own sand castle since 2007. The four-piece began with “Live To Love,” sung by Pete Sears, looking sharp in matching black trilby and vest. Sears has a jaw-dropping pedigree, including playing piano for John Lee Hooker, Sly and the Family Stone, Ron Wood, even Rod Stewart back in his hooligan days and also as founding member of Jefferson Starship. Next he gave a tip of the hat to the road crew via “Unsung Heroes,” which had a nice rambling quality about it.
Another touchstone for Moonalice is ‘50s rocker Eddie Cochran, the band aired out his “Summertime Blues” and “Twenty Flight Rock” in a show that was somewhat covers-heavy. “Daylight” is more of what they do best, sung by Roger MacNamee, starting off as reggae and travelling to the land of jazz-fusion, which they made into an easy journey. Macnamee’s appearance and voice are a reminder of another Roger (McGuinn), so it seemed natural that the band would take on the Byrds’ “Eight Miles High’, which they nailed with outstanding pedal steel from Barry Sless. All evening Sless was splendid, recalling his work with Phil and Friends, The David Nelson Band and Kingfish. They followed “I Looked Away” by gliding into “Layla’s” pretty coda, both from Derek and the Dominoes, the latter song written by the Dominoes’ troubled, murderous drummer, Jim Gordon.
In honor of an upcoming appearance at the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown they pretended it was the seventh inning with “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.” And what could they possibly follow that with? Leonard Cohen’s “Halleluiah,” naturally; here rocked up. Their version of “Not Fade Away” owed more to the Grateful Dead than Buddy Holly, psychedelic movies and graphics exploded across a screen behind them, it’s hard to imagine what the late Texan would’ve made of that.
Moonalice are also an endearingly fan-friendly bunch, bringing a hippie ethos into the digital age. MacNamee’s background is in technology and the band have embraced it by putting their concerts up on the ‘net for free (the couch tour), usually within a day. Also, every attendee gets a free poster of that particular night’s show.
Eclecticism continued with refreshments as the theme of the encore and two songs from 1959, The Big Bopper’s rockabilly gem “White Lightning” drawled by drummer John Molo, (Bruce Hornsby and the Range, Phil and Friends, John Fogerty) and finally McNamee chugging “Love Potion No.9.”
Published in Relix Magazine