Live Last Night: Marah
The Remains, Big Star, The Fleshtones, Tommy Keene, High Back Chairs. Every rock-n-roll obsessive has their personal list of bands who shoulda-coulda-woulda been as big as the Beatles. For those whose list includes Marah -- if pressed, Americana-soaked guitar rock with a wickedly beautiful poetic twist works as a definition -- last night's show at Iota was another reason to believe, distilled into two hours of impeccably styled gutbucket rock.
(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)
The final date in what was conceived as a series of acoustic shows while guitarist/singer Serge Bielanko (with brother Dave the only constants since the band's mid-90's inception) stepped away for the birth of his first child, the tour had escalated into a full-throttle Marah joyride by the time it got to Arlington, with guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Dave wild-eyed in the driver's seat.
Part Stones-Petty-Springsteen derived rock show ("Angels of Destruction," "It's Only Money, Tyrone"), part unspooling of street-folk vignettes ("My Heart Is The Bums On The Street") and part something else (Skip James's "Mighty Good Leader," the theme from "All in the Family"), Dave climaxed the tour with panache.
And while Serge's stinging guitar leads and harmonica were sorely missed, Dave -- in front of a solid rhythm section and keyboardist Christine Smith -- compensated with sheer energy. In between stories of his fruitless quest to get a Virginia ham and using the band's van to drive college kids to the polls last November, he nearly drowned in his own sweat doing what he always does -- clawing an infinitesimal bit closer to the top of the rock-and-roll mountain.
For his fans, torn between praying he makes it and secretly wishing Marah remains an Iota-scale band, being there was what is always is: everything.
-- PATRICK FOSTER
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