Friday, November 2, 2018

Holland & Clark at The Mayfair Hotel, 11-1-18 Concert Review

Holland & Clark performing "As Long As I've Got You"
There are certain singers and musicians I’ve learned to rely on for a good time, folks who couldn’t let you down even if they tried. Holland & Clark are just those kinds of musicians, and their concerts are always full of positive vibes as well as absolutely fantastic music. It’s exactly the sort of thing we need these days, for our spirit, for our health, for our survival. If the world is getting you down, listen to some Holland & Clark. Seriously. Last night they played at The Mayfair Hotel, a place that has been around since the 1920s but which was recently remodeled. Just behind the lobby there is a bar called Library Bar. And yes, there are some books on its shelves. Enough to call it a library? No, not by a long shot, though there is a nice two-volume set of Proust. It was in this bar that Holland & Clark played.

Cole Lumpkin did a nice opening set on the bar’s piano, playing original material. He finished just before 10:15 p.m., and there was no pause before Holland & Clark began their first set. The band is a seven-piece band, and last night featured a new guy named Josh on trombone, a welcome addition (he is a member of Mexico68 Afrobeat Orchestra). They kicked off the show with “I Found Fun,” a song they recently put out a video for. (The video is playful, silly and a whole lot of fun, just like the song.) Before starting the song, Holland told the crowd: “We are Holland & Clark, and we’re going to declare that we have indeed found fun. I hope you too will find it tonight. I feel confident that you will.” Absolutely! And it didn’t take long. This tune has a delicious groove, just the thing to get your feet moving and your face smiling.

They followed that with “Too Little, Too Late,” which includes the use of the bell of an alarm clock at the beginning (a clock that briefly went missing). It also featured a nice bass line by Clark, and of course a strong and beautiful vocal performance by Holland. This was a new one for me, and I loved it immediately. Clark then switched to electric guitar, with Erika switching to bass, and Holland playing electric ukulele as they launched into “Guilty Pleasure Zone,” an audience favorite. They followed that with an old gem, “Flashback.”

Holland then mentioned that since they were doing two sets, they had time to do some covers, “Some songs that we like, some songs that have influenced us.” The first was Michael Jackson’s “Baby Be Mine,” a song from his ridiculously popular Thriller album (seriously, I am pretty sure everyone on the planet has owned that album). They followed that with a tremendously fun rendition of Prince’s “I Feel For You.” The horn section sat out these covers, but returned for Sia’s “Be Good To Me,” which isn’t really a cover, since Clark wrote it. I’ve heard Holland & Clark perform this one before, and I think their version is better than Sia’s. Holland then grabbed her electric ukulele again for a couple of her classic numbers – “Stuck” and “Only Up From Here.” These two songs are a lot of fun, particularly “Stuck,” which is a great tune to dance to and is guaranteed to make you feel good. And last night’s performance of it was especially good, with a great energy. For “Only Up From Here,” Clark and Erika switched instruments again. They then closed out the first set with a cover of The Charmels’ “As Long As I’ve Got You.” The two horn players sat this one out, but Allison, the keyboardist, played both keys and sax. This song featured perhaps Holland’s best vocal performance of the first set. The set ended around 11 p.m.

The set break wasn’t too long, and the band was back at 11:28, opening the second set with what Holland said is “one of my very favorite original songs,” “We Could Still Get It On.” This song has a cheerful vibe and a good groove, and featured some nice work from the horn players. Clark played bass on this one, and on the following song, “What Is Dark,” one of my favorites. This one has such a cool feel to it, and is rather catchy. Erika delivered some really nice work on guitar. Holland played tambourine on this one. Then Clark and Erika switched instruments again, and the band played “Reach For Me,” a sexy and soulful number. “Sometimes I see it as like kind of a self-love story,” Holland said in introducing it, “the way you’ve got to reach inside of yourself and bring the best out of yourself.”

The first cover of the second set was Jace Everett’s “Bad Things,” performed without the horn section. That was followed by “Surf Rider,” an instrumental featuring Allison on saxophone and Holland on electric guitar. Then, after a fun version of “Fool Around,” Holland & Clark did a bit of their Murdergram material – covering The Misfits’ “Vampira” and “Hollywood Babylon.” After all, it was Día de los Muertos. Holland totally rocked the electric ukulele on both of these songs, and afterward joked around about smashing the instrument. Yeah, it had that kind of energy. That was followed by a haunting, gorgeous rendition of Tom Waits’ “Alice.” The second set then concluded with an old favorite, the delightful “Speedway,” at the beginning of which Holland did the band introductions. There were calls for an encore (and one shout out for them to “Come to Georgia”), and for a bit it seemed like the band wasn’t going to do one. But then it was decided to do one more jam, a loose, totally enjoyable rendition of “Batman Theme,” with Holland on electric ukulele (and at one point delivering a fantastic scream). This version featured some excellent stuff from the horns, and from Caitlin on drums. The show ended at 12:16 a.m.

Set List

Set I
  1. I Found Fun
  2. Too Little, Too Late
  3. Guilty Pleasure Zone
  4. Flashback
  5. Baby Be Mine
  6. I Feel For You
  7. Be Good To Me
  8. Stuck
  9. Only Up From Here
  10. As Long As I’ve Got You
Set II
  1. We Could Still Get It On
  2. What Is Dark
  3. Reach For Me
  4. Bad Things
  5. Surf Rider
  6. Fool Around
  7. Vampira
  8. Hollywood Babylon
  9. Alice
  10. Speedway
  1. Batman Theme
Here are a few photos from the show (my apologies for using the flash, but the lighting in the venue wasn’t very good):

"I Found Fun"
"I Found Fun"
"Only Up From Here"
"Bad Things"
"Surf Rider"

The Mayfair Hotel is located at 1256 W. 7 th St., in Los Angeles, California.

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