The Smithereens

21 October 1990

Arnold Hall Theatre, Colorado Springs, CO


In early 1987, a UW student/poet who lived next door to me at the time, named Sonya, approached me and gave me a copy of the Smithereens' 1987 album, saying, "Here Steven, this is Especially For You!", not realizing at the time that she was talking about the title of the album. The band sounded nothing like anything else I had heard in the techno-laced era of the 1980s.

I had seen the band on Saturday Night Live, and was taken in immediately by the sound. Rickenbacher guitars, Byrds-like melodies and harmonies. Somehow this band was able to transcend 20 years since the Byrds' "Turn! Turn! Turn!", and catch on with the younger crowd, as it be.

Now it's 1990. A Cheyenne Mountain Air Force weather officer, named Kim, invited me and some co-workers to see the band live. With the assistance of some very kind and polite Air Force Academy cadets, the six of us navigated our way to the Arnold Hall Theatre. When we walked in the lobby, we immediately noticed several cadets employed as ushers handing out earplugs. I try to make a habit of bringing a set to nearly every concert nowadays, and so, in essense, these future Air Force officers hit the spot.

It was a good call. The sheer volume of the opener, their 1989 smash, "A Girl Like You", actually caused the legs of my jeans to visibly shake. The New Jersey quartet concetrated on a lot of material from their 1989 hit album, 11, including the tracks "Cut Flowers", "Yesterday Girl", "Blue Period", and the rocker "Blues Before And After".

The Smithereens have two good lead guitar players, the Australian-born, blues-influenced Jim Babjak, and the somewhat Dave Davies-ish-influenced (and lead singer) Pat DiNizio. Though DiNizio handled most of the lead work on 11, Babjak took care of most of the duties for Especially For You, which includes a few tracks performed this evening, "Cigarette", and the hit "Behind The Wall Of Sleep".

After performing relatively faster-paced versions of "Only A Memory", and "House That We Used To Live In", and several cover songs, the Smithereens encored with their first big hit, from 1987, "Blood And Roses".

Drummer Dennis Diken, who reminds me of truck driver I once knew, kindly tossed his souvenier drumsticks to the crowd. The theatre was about 2/3 full, but definitely loud enough to match the blast of this Jersey-based sound reminiscent of the British invasion of some 25 years earlier.

Some sounds are timeless.

[****] - Steven T.

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