The Smithereens put on a powerful performance at the Evolution in Williamsville, New York, on Saturday, June 14, 2003. Enthusiastic fans of The Smithereens crowded the stage area and an adjacent bar. Catching The Smithereens up close on an intimate stage is highly recommended to concertphiles.

     Smithereens drummer Dennis Diken, lead guitarist Jimmy Babjak, bassist Mike Mesaros, and guitarist & vocalist Pat DiNizio all hail from neighboring New Jersey. The group were relaxed and ready to rock on stage. DiNizio's instrument of choice throughout the evening was an acoustic guitar.

     DiNizio welcomed fans to come down in front of the stage before the quartet began their set with "Miles From Nowhere". The high-tech sound system at the Evolution enhanced the band's performance on this moderate rocker.

     DiNizio commented he liked pulling a Clapton guitar trick and placed his cigarette in the tip of his guitar neck. Babjak's crunching guitar lines and Mesaros' thumping bass notes sharpened "Only A Memory". DiNizio turned in a strong vocal with harmony support from Babjak and Diken on this outstanding single from 1988's Green Thoughts.

     The Smithereens really shined on DiNizio's pop-rocker "Yesterday Girl". For a band that does not tour extensively, their live sound was tight and the group clicked on stage together. Mesaros' animated bass playing added an extra injection of excitement into the band performance.

     DiNizio responded to a call-out from Marisa standing dead-center in front of the stage to play "Something New". The mild Country-flavored number hinted at a musical influence from The Kinks' early style. Their mellow rocker, "Blue Period", infused a subtle Beatles influence.

     DiNizio made a point to mention The Smithereens had been together 23 years and were displeased with being pegged as an `80's band and retorted, "F*ck that sh*t". He offered the quick-paced pop-rocker "She's Got A Way" to dispel any notions about the issue. Halfway through the song, DiNizio broke a string on his acoustic guitar and completed the piece sans replacement guitar.

     Mesaros' deep bass notes introduced the melodic rocker "Blood And Roses". Babjak slashed his lead guitar solo by imitating Pete Townshend's windmill-style of playing. In a surprise move, Babjak leaped off stage to jam on an extended guitar solo to the delirium of the Evolution audience. Babjak tossed his pick my way, and I snatched it off the venue floor.

     The Smithereens closed their set, jamming on a strong live version of their popular single, "A Girl Like You". Mesaros' burping bass and Babjak's stinging solo empowered the band's performance, which included a brief segue into a `50's rock-style interlude.

     Returning for a lone encore, Diken counted out the intro on "House We Use To Live In". Mesaros' fierce bass and Diken's pounding drums demonstrated the rhythm section is a powerhouse on stage. The up-tempo rocker cranked as the band delivered an intense workout, intimating a Who-influenced crescendo. However, Smithereens fans remained unsatisfied, clamoring for another musical morsel from their New Jersey heroes.

     John Golomb, 36, drove seven hours all the way from Howell, New Jersey, to enjoy The Smithereens on a Saturday night. He commented, "I thought they were nice and tight". Golomb was rewarded for his pilgrimage with one of Diken's drumsticks tossed into the audience after their encore.

Williamsville setlist: Miles From Nowhere * Green Thoughts * Life Is So Beautiful * Only A Memory * Cigarette * Behind The Wall Of Sleep * Room Without A View * Yesterday Girl * Something New * Deep Black * Blue Period * She's Got A Way * Everything Changes But Nothing Is Stronger Than Love * Blood And Roses * A Girl Like You * Encore: House We Use To Live In

RockonTour   Issue #22
Concert Fan - the Single Source for the Concertphile © 2003 RoT
                  the Single Source for the Concertphile

Energy engaged on stage
The Smithereens entertain the Evolution

by Timothy Tilghman