Hollywood, May 7th, 2002
The Knack
Review by Ross Anthony

I listen to music while I work, how about you? There are a host of songs with lyrics rich enough to distract me from my writing, but there are only a handful of songs that not only pull me completely from my work, but also cajole me out of my chair, reaching for the volume control. "My Sharona" is solidly one of those few. Moreover, the gripping beat holds me for the duration. Were it not for the four walls surrounding me, I'd no doubt embarrass myself with unsightly convulsions.

And so when I heard the Knack was back, I stopped by the House of Blues in Hollywood promptly after screening "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones."

Admittedly, I am one of the very many (I'm sure) who only knew Knack tunes off that first jammin' album "Get the Knack." (Well at least I'd owned it.) If you're unfamiliar ... the Knack took the rock/pop world by storm with its cocky attitude, hormonal lyrics, primal beat, and unique Beatles/new-wave/punk blend. Our desert ears drank up their music like rain, and like a storm they seemed to disappear from sight as fast as they'd come. A couple of decades later, their strumming their guitars 20 feet in front of me. In the meantime, they'd been making a bunch of CD's and began their show tonight with plenty of new (to me) songs.

The four musicians dressing reminiscently of the Beatles (neat black suit coats, white dress-shirts) take the stage. The lead singer even sports a Lennon-esque Beatles haircut, sporting a smile 95% of the time. Such nostalgic innocence strikes a rich contrast to some of the lyrics ranging from teenybopper to teenage sex-crazed (hiding obscenity behind relaxed blameless smiles).

Unfortunately, the sweet harmonies and melodies were (to some extent) muddled by a less than impressive overall mix. Fortunately, the crisp visceral drumming and tight bass were up front and sharp as ever. The lead guitar still as cocky and focused, but again, the mix didn't serve it the justice it deserved. Especially on a rocky version of "Tequila/Break on Though" cover ... his volume should have been pushed.

About 40 minutes in, The Knack opens up its debut album bag of goodies closing the show at the hour mark with "My Sharona." What a joy to watch them jam that tune. In fact, the drummer gives every ounce of himself to the show, spinning sticks in-between beats. Though not an original member, he deserved at least a riser. Infinitely not in need of egging on, the bass player occasionally stepped to face him and fire him up with a little eye to eye. At one point, the drummer broke a stick in half, nailing the back of the lead singer who didn't mind, just kept his peaceful, if not somewhat psychotic smile.

All songs, save for the Tequila jam, were played more or less as on the albums and weren't opened up to improvisation. The singer only lost control over his voice on a tune or two. At peak, I'd guess 150 guests attended and for the most part enjoyed the show. Looked like the Knack did as well ... which is always a plus. They encored with another three or four tunes.

Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:06:25 PDT