Saigon Kick – The Studio, Webster Hall, New York City, Thursday, April 6th, 2017
Set List: New World/ICU/Suzy/Down By The Ocean/All I Want/Coming Home/World Goes Round/Peppermint Tribe/Ugly/God Of 42nd Street/Month Of Sundays/The Lizard/Hostile Youth/Love Is On The Way/What Do You Do?
It had been over 20 years since I first saw Saigon Kick perform live. I took advantage of the chance to check them out again when their tour ventured through New York City. A band known for melodic harmonies and an endless catalog of popular songs, I was hoping they would still maintain the sound that impressed me immensely in my younger days. That they did.
Playing to a packed New York City room to a crowd that knew every word to every song; this band has not missed a beat. Since first venturing past their Florida borders during the late 1980’s, Saigon Kick made their mark among the bands of their successful era. Matt Kramer and Jason Bieler, two of the founding members and the bands core were part of the line up this evening. Chris McLernon, Jonathan Mover and Steve Gibb rounded out the remainder of the crew.
‘New World’ appropriately introduced the set since the song introduced the band to many via cassette tapes, of this album, popped into car stereos. Both Saigon Kick’s debut album and their follow album The Lizard dominated the classic set list. ‘ICU’ was followed by ‘Suzy’ with Kramer dancing around the stage like a modern day Robert Plant, locks and all; his familiar spot on vocal as strong as ever.
Before addressing favorites from ‘The Lizard’ album, Kramer bought up the band’s Florida roots. Kramer explained their origins were responsible for the development of “Down By The Ocean” which followed after Beiler’s familiar crunching guitar introduction. Both Bieler and Gibb traded solos and phonetics back and forth throughout the performance, both skilled musicians and perfected showmen.
I was beyond please at what they offered next. That treat was ‘All I Want’ one of the singles from ‘The Lizard’. The tune is a melodic, harmonious, sweet-sounding anthem as well as a personal favorite. It was easy to recall the snowbound video that graced the MTV channel when it actually participated in benefiting a band’s success.
Tales from The Lizard continued with the title track ‘The Lizard’, ‘Peppermint Tribe’ and ‘God of 42nd Street’ the latter had the band acknowledging this current stop on the tour. It was then time for local guitar shredder Andee Black to join the band on stage for ‘Ugly’. Andee with his take no prisoner guitar style and his infectious smile danced through this song with grace and pizzazz. The chemistry with Saigon Kick was perfect and Black definitely left the crowd wanting more of him.
For many, the highlight of the evening was Saigon Kick’s ballad ‘Love is On The Way’. Coming in to this show, I spoke with several fans who mentioned the band does not always choose this number as part of their nightly repertoire. Personally I prefer more intense songs by most artists but when a ballad gives you the chills, it is something special. This song highlighted the band’s harmonic candor. It is raw, unadulterated emotion set to Bieler’s acoustic guitar perfection.
Bands come and go throughout music generations. I often speak of staying power and how the artists of the past few decades are able to do that. The reasons being is their heartfelt songwriting, strong vocals and mastering their instruments the old fashioned way. Saigon Kick may have been caught between the hair bands of the 1980s and the insurgence of the “grunge” bands of the 1990s. Still they managed to stand out then and still stand out now.
By Dawn Belotti