Few bands have been around long enough to have played music in five different decades. Blood, Sweat & Tears can boast that accomplishment with ease. Through forty-one years and over one hundred and twenty-five different members over the course of those years this is a band who knows how to survive. Those members have included everyone from Al Kooper and Steve Katz, to David Clayton Thomas, Tom "Bones" Malone and "Blue" Lou Marini of the Blues Brothers as well as the legendary Jaco Pastorius. Born in the late sixties, Blood, Sweat & Tears was part of a small but powerful group of musicians including "Chicago" and "The Ides of March" that smoothly combined the rock of that era with a jazz horn section to make for a truly unique sound.
September 12th turned out to be a contradiction in music and fun. Blood, Sweat & Tears took the stage about fifteen minutes late and after a brief introduction and greeting by founding member Steve Katz, the band started playing with a rousing rendition of the classic "More and More." Relatively-new front man Rob Paparozzi sounded great and was smiling and having fun. The horn section of Steve Jankowski, Jens Wendelboe, Brian Steel and former Tower of Power Saxophonist Bill Churchill, hooked the crowd instantly with the sound that made this band famous. The band wasted no time in taking the audience down memory lane with the classic, "I Can't Quit Her," followed by the Carol King sing-along number, "Hi De Ho" which featured Paparozzi blowin' some seriously sweet harp sounds. The never-more-appropriate and bluesy "Go Down Gamblin'" followed, which guitarist Dave Gellis carried to a whole new realm with a blistering guitar solo that was like something Steve Vai would have done. Next up was the ballad "Sometimes In Winter" with original member Steve Katz handling the vocals. From there they covered the Bob Dylan tune "Down in the Flood" and one of their biggest hits "And When I Die." The band showed off its diversity by giving every member a little limelight, from keyboards to bass to the horns, everyone was smiling, laughin' and just havin' a great time.
Then came the part of the evening I would rather forget. Earlier in the evening the band had mentioned a special guest, which usually means something more to look forward too, but unfortunately that wasn't the case. From the side of stage came Jim Peterik, founding member of the Ides of March and Survivor. Now at this point I assumed he was going to jam with the band on the Ides of March classic "Vehicle," a song that fits perfectly in the style of music Blood, Sweat & Tears is famous for playing. Well I was partially right. Jim got to the mic and started talking about his career as both a musician and a songwriter. He was dressed in a suit, vest and tie with no shirt, wrap-around shades and a frilly scarf. This along with skinny jeans and some blue-dyed alligator skin boots made him look more like he was going to play with the New York Dolls than Blood, Sweat & Tears. When he finally finished his story he didn't go into "Vehicle" as I thought he would but instead the .38 Special song "Hold On Loosely" which he had written. It was AWFUL! His mic was way too hot and his vocals were not only off key, they were out of time. I looked back at one point to the sound man to see why he wasn't adjusting the mic, and he was busy taking pictures of Peterik. Then much to my horror he went into two Survivor songs, the ballad "The Search is Over" and of course "Eye of the Tiger," the latter of which he took the time to talk about simulating the call from Sylvester Stalone by holding his faux alligator boot to his head like a phone for the whole story. The songs were again off key, off time and vocally overpowering. To make matters worse he took it upon himself to walk through the audience during an extended guitar part playing for people up close and personal. The only problem was what he was playing in no way fit or complimented the song. It was a complete mess. Then after I thought I couldn't take another minute he finally got together with the band and performed a rousing rendition of "Vehicle." The sounds were sweet and the horns and bass made the song jump and groove. Finally Peterik left the stage and the band resumed playing their songs which brought me and (from what I could see) most of the audience back to the party.
The party definitely kicked into high gear with the Beatles number "Got To Get You Into My Life." It rocked, it rolled and it grooved with a wicked bass solo by Gary Foote. It even made the band members dance around the stage. The night was fun again. From there they flowed seamlessly into "God Bless the Child," "Spinning Wheel," and the always fun "Lucretia McEvil." The band grooved and jammed and even the horn section was dancing as they cut loose and brought the house down. They finished to a raucous applause and a standing ovation, joined together and bowing as one. Then after an ever-so-brief exit from the stage they came back out for an encore. Performing one of their biggest hits, "You've Made Me So Very Happy" with Jim Peterik (this time with a much toned down mic doing the backing vocals). All in all it was a great show with the exception of Jim Peterik's abysmal performance. That being said I have to give Blood, Sweat & Tears a very well deserved B+ for great energy, fun and sweet sounds. And to Jim Peterik, who reminded me of that dad in the Verizon wireless commercial who shows up to get his son from school dressed in 80's spandex and a tie, it's time to retire dude because you earned my first ever F-.
Photos: Paul Kloiber
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