Without a drop of moisture in the weather forecast, the residual impact of Hurricane Charlie dealt an unintended delay to Rutland, Vermont. As fate would have it, The Knack became the main attraction at the Paramount Theatre on Saturday, August 14, 2004. The energized power-pop rockers were up for the challenge and delivered an exceptionally animated performance.

     Original Knack members singer & rhythm guitarist Doug Fieger, lead guitarist Berton Averre, and bassist Prescott Niles were enhanced as a group by the dynamic execution of drummer Pat Torpey behind the skins. The engaging quartet presented an extended engagement as compensation due to the fact that Blue Oyster Cult was grounded at a Chicago airport.

     The Knack launched the evening with "Pop Is Dead" off their 1998 release, Zoom. The runaway infectious pop melody established a high energy level that the band crested on throughout the entire night. "Baby Talks Dirty" was a cool pop-rocker, highlighted by Prescott's hopping bass lines.

     The stylish, "Oh Tara", was welcomed in applause by the audience. The band demonstrated their cohesiveness with tight instrumentation. Fieger teased the audience with his quip, "Hello Rutland, home of The Rutles!" (After the concert, he commented the band had contemplated singing a Rutles cover of "Number One". Now that would have been a stellar highpoint had they done so.)

     Pausing to adjust his harmonica, Fieger kicked off the ever-popular "Good Girls Don't". A roar of cheers and applause ensued at the climax. An unexpected surprise was their cover of the Badfinger tune "No Matter What". Fluid bass lines and sharp guitar leads embellished this classic Brit hit.

     The spontaneous burst of the guitar chords for "Frustrated" motivated members of the audience to get up on their feet. The intense sound of the band segued into a energetic stage jam. The cool percussion punctuation of "(She's So) Selfish" kept the audience enthusiasm going strong.

     Torpey's drum introduction commenced a killer version of the band's quintessential top 40 single, "My Sharona". Niles followed suit on bass a few bars ahead of the churning guitar chords. A small group of fans ran down in front to dance before the stage edge. Averre's searing guitar solo tore into the familiar classic lead, which earned the quartet a standing ovation before their stage exit.

     Returning to the stage for their encore set, Fieger rallied the crowd by hollering, "You wanna rock! Are you sure you wanna rock? Well, o.k. ..." With that, The Knack cranked out a rousing version of "Let Me Out", the lead track off their 1979 debut album.  The combustible combination of the rhythm section's chaotic bass runs and pounding drum beat propelled this straight into the stratosphere.

     The quartet proficiently updated their cover of a 1964 Beatlemania classic, John Lennon's "You Can't Do That". The hard-edged rocker featured driving drums and Averre's choice guitar leads. For their final band jam, the fab foursome stoked the musical appetite of the Rutland audience with an incredible rendition of "(Havin' A) Rave Up"; an original Knack composition one could have easily mistaken as a lost Yardbirds classic.

     Beau coup kudos go to The Knack for stepping up to the plate and going the extra distance for the appreciative Paramount concertphiles. Knack fans are encouraged to pick up Live from the Rock n Roll Fun House. This live collection, documenting their 2001 U.S. Tour, is available on both CD and DVD.

Rutland setlist: Pop Is Dead * Baby Talks Dirty * Boys Go Crazy * Oh Tara * Just Wait And See * Good Girls Don't * Doin' The Dog * Harder On You * Hold On Tight And Don't Let Go * Heartbeat * No Matter What * Tequila > Break On Through (To The Other Side) * Frustrated * (She's So) Selfish * My Sharona * Encore: Let Me Out * Your Number Or Your Name * You Can't Do That * (Havin' A) Rave Up

The Knack website

RockonTour   Issue #36
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Pop punch at the Paramount
The Knack crank up the jams in performance

by Timothy Tilghman