Fishbone Paddys

Fishbone and the Oxymorons

Paddy’s Beach Club Westerly, RI

August 18, 2018

by JD Cohen

 

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The history of Fishbone is a long and sordid tale. It begins almost 40 years ago in South Central Los Angeles when founding members John Norwood Fisher (bass), his brother Philip “Fish” Fisher (drums),  Kendall Jones (guitar), “Dirty” Walter A. Kibby II (vocals, trumpet), and Christopher Dowd (keyboards, trombone, vocals) met up with gifted enigmatic front man Angelo Moore (vocals, saxophones and theremin) while in high school. The band’s early rise to glory, troubled history and struggle to find wide-spread success has been well documented. The 2010 documentary Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone, narrated by actor Laurence Fishburne, was recently listed by Business Insider as one of the 50 best documentaries of all time and was Rotten Tomatoes’ highest scoring movie of 2011. The consummate underdogs, Fishbone had a level of success most bands only dream about but somehow have never been able to break through as super stars, often toiling in relative obscurity. If you were a fan of the band back in the 80 and early 90’s, chances are you lost touch with their music as they changed lineups, record companies, and musical styles. However, if you ever saw the band live, which included an appearance on Saturday Night Live in 1991, they likely left a lasting impression.

A full gallery of photos from this show.

In his prime, Moore was one of the most electrifying band leaders whose distinctive look and awe-inspiring energy helped the band stand out among their contemporaries; the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Janes Addiction, and the Bad Brains. Although the lineup has changed many times over, Moore and bassist John Norwood Fisher have remained constant, touring pretty much non-stop since their formation.

Kicking off an east coast run last Saturday night at Paddy’ Beach Club in Westerly Rhode Island, the new 2018 lineup consists of all but one of the founding members, recreating the classic Fishbone lineup that originally earned them a sizable cult following. Paddy’s has been hosting some great bands, but it’s a somewhat remote location and was probably squeezed into the bands touring schedule before a trip to New York, then return to the area to join the Mighty, Mighty Bosstones for The Cranking & Skanking Fest this weekend in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The evening got off on the right foot with the New York based Oxymorrons, who impressed with a high energy blend of rap rock that was a perfect fit with the Fishbone vibe and ethos. The theme of the night was hard work, high energy and dedication to the craft of creating positive music, not fame and fortune. The band was clearly there to make a statement and would not relent regardless of the location or the size of the audience. There are few things as powerful and entertaining as a band playing for their lives, and at times, it certainly felt like the Oxymorrons were doing just that. Kudos to Fishbone for bringing these talented musicians out on tour with them. Oxymorrons certainly set the bar high for an opening act, and Fishbone could have easily been upstaged by their performance.

Fishbone came with fire in their belly, especially Angelo Moore, who was in fine form and good health. Any diversity among the small group of devoted fans in the room was provided compliments of the five band members on stage. Moore kicked things off by speaking to the crowd directly conveying a positive message during these difficult times, and then opened the show with 1988’s bluesy romp, ͞”Hide Behind My Glasses.”

The often played, “I Wish I Had a Date” (In Your Face, 1989) came next followed by “Pray to the Junkiemaker” and “Housework” both from 1991’s “Reality of Your Surroundings” followed. There were clearly some technical issues at the beginning the show that seemed to frustrate Moore and cause him to exit the stage several times. However, once everything was in order Moore settled into the performance without further issue.

The crowd pleaser and minor hit ͞”Ugly” got things moving a little faster as sweat was pouring from Moore’s face. It was a hot and muggy inside Paddy’s tent on Misquamicut beach, but Moore showed no sign of fatigue as the band powered through some of their most popular material. Question of Life” and the fun ska “Ma and Pa” from Truth and Soul 1988 kept the pace going and got things really cooking with the crowd responding in kind to the energy Moore and the band were putting out. As the show progressed, they built up a head of steam speeding up the tempo and the intensity. In typical Fishbone fashion, the two plus hour set mixed styles and genres including punk, reggae, ska, soul, and a touch of jazz showcasing almost every phase of the bands long career. ͞

“Every Day Sunshine”, ͞”Pressure” and Curtis Mayfield’s ͞”Freddy’s Dead” were particular highlights. It was clear throughout the show that unlike some performers (Miles Davis, Bob Dylan etc), you can sense Moore’s desire to connect to his audience beyond the music. Although his stage diving days may be over, he had little trouble climbing over the rail into the audience mid show for a group sing along. He also didn’t seem to mind lingering with fans long after the show was over while the rest of the band quickly made for the exits.

For Fishbone it may have been just another night on the road, or it could be the start of their big come-back. Either way, it was a very special night for the small group assembled at Paddy’s who came to see a group of dedicated and talented musicians play for the love of the music and not much else.

A full gallery of photos from this show.

To submit a review for consideration hit us at lmnandr@gmail.com

Check out the Live Music News and Review.com Facebook page for updates and announcements.