Blind Melon | 4.27.08 | Tulsa

By: David Basteri

Blind Melon :: 04.27.08 :: The Other Side :: Tulsa, OK


The original Blind Melon
Without a doubt, Blind Melon is back! The much-loved, often-maligned psychedelic rocking folksters have finally put their trepidations about reforming minus their departed, iconic frontman behind them, while rediscovering the magic of their all-is-one music.

The near capacity crowd of "Melon Heads" was honestly quite surprising given the breadth of negative press and cranky attitude of many hardcore fans. There is a vocal group of folks who are angry at their former heroes for having the balls to reform THEIR band a dozen or so years after the sudden death of lead singer Richard 'Shannon' Hoon due to a cocaine overdose just months after their sophomore release, Soup. Well, Blind Melon's brief catalog was always credited as written by "Blind Melon as One," and while one might be gone, the other ones, the four left standing, holding the proverbial "what the fuck do we do now?" torch are still, quite alive and kicking.

In fact, founding member Brad Smith brought the whole "balls" thing into perspective right before the second song of the night, "2 X 4," announcing to the crowd, declaring really, just who had the biggest balls in the room that night. Those juevos belonged to new Blind Melon singer/uber-fan Travis Warren, the man with the unenviable task of replacing one of music's favorite sons. Taking the stage to a raucous ovation, much love and smiles from wall-to-wall, the band wasted no time in assailing the fervent crowd with "Galaxie," fittingly a song about settling comfortably into one's own shoes. Given the state of the apprehension surrounding their reformation, the song was a perfect opener and set the tone for the evening.

Four songs in and the band unveiled the title track from their new album with Warren, For My Friends, and by the time they belted a gut-wrenching version of the mesmerizing "Soup" it was more than clear that the band and their legions were tunneling into a sustained, "I love you, you love me, we're a happy family" vibe!

The drums, Wurlitzer, strings and lap steel were in full force, as was the "new guy" who sweated, channeled and rocked the stage. He evoked his idols Maynard Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle) and Hoon, of course, more than once throughout the two-hour-plus set with his presence and mannerisms - talking back to the crowd (a lot), disappearing behind the drum kit whilst singing songs about serial killers ("Skinned"), bad breath ("Wilt"), drug detox ("2 X 4") and simplicity ("Sometimes").

And when you're deepest thoughts are broken
Keep on dreaming, boy
Because when you stop dreaming it's time to die

Blind Melon - 2008
Blind Melon were truly pioneers, yet the untimely loss of their leader seemed to steal back much of their power and allow space for the world to forget the alt-rock-folk-freak trail they blazed. Widely credited with helping to foster the atmosphere that led to the emergence of a "jam band scene," Blind Melon is more than willing and capable these days of shredding with short (two-to-four minute) psychedelic, country rock jams, like a less hairy version of The Black Crowes with way shorter songs.

It's been said before and I'll say it again: the humility and "big balls" on the new guy is just what the doctor ordered for the fans and "their" band. Warren's humility took shape all night, but never more so than when he was telling the crowd that he too would rather be in the stands watching Hoon onstage rather than taking his place.

"I understand that everyone is not going to get this and doesn't agree with Blind Melon reforming," Warren wrote on the band's MySpace page. "And believe it or not, I honestly understand and I don't look down on them."

In one of Warren's more warming and open moments with the crowd, the singer-guitarist led the enthralled masses in that sunny, catchy song about a girlfriend's confusing depression "No Rain." A rousing rendition of "Pusherman" from the posthumously released Nico followed, reminding us that the pusherman don't really care if you live or if you die. Fitting, methinks.

The three-song encore began with a spot-on revisit to the classic "Mouthful Of Cavities" ('Your soul's a bowl of jokes') complete with female accompaniment true to the album version. I'm pretty sure this young lady, with only a hint of nervousness apparent was a local from Tulsa but she bolted for the exit as soon as the house lights went up before I could get her name.

The faithful devoted (and maybe even some newcomers) saluted their fallen, and now risen, saviors well after the show was over.

I can't tell you how many ways that I've sat
And viewed my life today, but I can tell you
I don't think that I can find easier way
So if I see you walking hand in hand in hand
With a three-armed man, you know I'll understand
But you should have been in my shoes yesterday
You should have been in my shoes yesterday

4.27.08 :: The Other Side :: Tulsa, OK
(Intro-Hello Goodbye), Galaxie, 2 X 4, Toes Across The Floor, For My Friends, Soup, Drive, Paper Scratcher, Sleepyhouse, Sometimes, I Wonder, Last Laugh, Wishing Well, Change, Hypnotized, Tumblin' Down, Skinned, Soak, Wilt, No Rain, Pusherman
Encore: Mouthful Of Cavities, Down On The Pharmacy, Time

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http://www.myspace.com/blindmelon

[Published on: 5/12/08]

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Comments

Lenox Mon 5/12/2008 06:17PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Lenox

saw them at langerado and enjoyed the show. Let the band live on i say... its not the rest of the bands fault that their front man cant handle his drug habit, the rest should not have to suffer for one mans dumb mistake.

tourfan starstarstarstarstar Tue 5/13/2008 06:03AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

First of all, props to David for a well written review. His own love of the band shines through in this article. I too, was indeed a fan of the band with Shannon, and felt a deep loss with his OD. I would have liked it more however, if Basteri had written a bit more about the new vocalists’ singing.

I decided too read through this concert review while streaming the new CD from the bands’ myspace page and then further, Itunes too. I haven’t bought the CD – Yet! Not sure whether or not I will. Warren’s vocals do sound eerily reminiscent of Hoon’s, and that is a critique I have. This CD sounds way to close to Melon with Hoon, as opposed to forging a sound of its (Blind Melon) own. Listen for yourself to “hypnotize” for instance, and tell me you don’t hear Hoon.

I would (personally) rather the other members of Melon go on as a new band, or at least under a new name, and play only new music, rather than that made with Hoon! I know there are younger fans that never had the chance to hear Hoon sing in concert, and I respect other folks’ desire for nostalgia. But for this critic, it will be hard to assimilate Hoon’s presence on stage while hearing Melon songs that should have him singing.

All of that said, I am willing to have an open mind. I will be open to seeing the band live, and will consider buying the new CD. But it would be my hope for the future of this band that they do go on to develop more of their own material and sound, and build a rep on that – rather than holding on to Hoon’s legacy.

This is of course – my own OPINION. Please don’t hate on me for my comments.

knibbs Tue 5/13/2008 08:21AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

knibbs

Kudos Dave this is an extremely well written review. I too was curious as to what the "new" Blind Melon would be like. They're coming to Chicago in a week or so, but they're also playing @ Summer Camp, so I'll check them out there.

Jamon Tue 5/13/2008 09:47AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Good for them. Shannon would want them to continue.

MoeString Tue 5/13/2008 09:52AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

MoeString

look at ac/dc rhey did well with a new singer.. who knows! i heard shannons mom urged them to play again?!? dont know if its true. but im from indiana and they are huge here.

ManyRoads starstarstarstarstar Tue 5/13/2008 11:11AM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

ManyRoads

The world needs Blind Melon. They sound great and the new material has something to offer.

evgatch starstarstarstarstar Tue 5/13/2008 12:43PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

evgatch

yeah good article, i was mad to see them get back together but Im really glad I gave them a fair shot, they are good

BassInvader Tue 5/13/2008 12:57PM
Show -6 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
ILoveMusic! starstarstarstarstar Tue 5/13/2008 02:16PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

What a great article. Blind Melon was one of my favorite bands growing up and its sad that they're maindly known as the "no rain" guys. The albums they wrote are soo deep and great and the new album they released is awsesome as well. I The new singer is great and traveled down to atlanta exited but skeptical but left a true believer of the reformed Blind Melon. Travis Warren is a great replacement to shannon and he does him proud. All the guys are cool as shit to and made sure to stick around and talk to the fans.

ILoveMusic! Tue 5/13/2008 02:17PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

saw them in Nashville as well and it was a killer show and different set list besides the ones they have to play so it was great

Kritter419 starstarstarstarstar Tue 5/13/2008 02:23PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Fabulous article!! Great Job! This band is 1 of a kind. They put so much meaning into every song. It is so sad what happened to Shannon, he is a beautiful person. Travis doesn't replace Shannon, but he does one hell of a job keeping the band alive and on tour for all of us. I to was skeptical at first, but he is truely amazing and shows a lot of respect for Shannon and the band. I have seen them twice already and reccomend everyone else go as well.

chumpdaddy starstarstarstarstar Tue 5/13/2008 04:02PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

chumpdaddy

Great review. If you want to see something cool go to you tube and pull up nico hoon sings change. Shannons daughter sings in Chicago and Shannons' mom comes out and gives her full blessing. Gave me the goosebumps. Saw them in St. Petersburg FL, and at Langerado. Was blown away both shows. Saw many in tears. Hell, I had them.

brienza66 Tue 5/13/2008 04:47PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

So let me get this right. According to most of you on here because a founding member of a band died the band should also die? If thats the wrong vibe then stop me now. I love melon old and new so there is my stance.

BUT with the logic of many on this thread here, does that mean The Grateful Dead should have stopped making music with the loss if Pig Pen?? I mean he was there since the beginning, even with the Zodiacs... It would have been the biggest shame in musical history if the rest of the guys stopped the band with Pigpens loss

grumpin starstarstarstarstar Tue 5/13/2008 09:04PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

grumpin

I am so happy to see all you ppl out there speak kind words about the band Blind Melon. They are such a unique band, & most underrated band ever. Being a fan from the beginning, I truly believe it is wonderful they have come together since the loss of Shannon. I've seen them a bunch with Travis & he does it right. As someone else said a few lines above, the world needs blind melon. ....Beautiful article by the way !!

tourfan Tue 5/13/2008 09:35PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

^^^^^ Hey Brienza66 - I don't think my comment is necessarily saying the band - Blind Melon - shouldn't find ways to make music. Rather, I would like to see them make original music, that sounds different than that which they made with Hoon. When the Dead lost Pig Pen, that bands’ sound changed, if I am not mistaken? Wasn't Pig Pen a blues singer and the Dead's music blues based with him? When Jerry took over vocals after his passing, didn’t he lead them down a bluegrass path initially? And when Jerry finally did pass, the band wasn't ever the same either. Now, I make no claim to be a Dead historian, so please no hate if I don't have the facts perfectly straight. But my point is ... and please do read my comment from above ... that when a band loses an integral member, a key songwriter, it's sound/music should change. Travis Warren just sounds way to much like a Hoon clone, and the music way to much like a carbon copy of the music made with Hoon. I know that these guys did try to continue on and make music without him and make music that was different from Blind Melon. They failed. So now that they're broke, they are pillaging off of Hoon's legacy and the music made with him as a front man. It lacks originality to me. Understand this as well - out of the over 3000 CD's I own, Blind Melon/Blind Melon is one of about 10 that I couldn't live without. Having seen the band with Hoon live several times, that band holds a special place in my heart. As I stated, I am willing to give Warren and Blind Melon a listen with an open mind, but from my initial impressions, it's just trying to hard to recapture that previous sound that did so well. There will never be another Pig Pen, Jimmy Hendrix or SRV, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Jeff Buckley .... The list goes on and on. Nor should there ever be.

Change - Shannon Hoon

"And Oh as I fade away/They'll all look at me and say/Hey look at him/I'll never live that way/When life is hard/You have to change."

"And as we all play parts of tomorrow/Some ways will work and other ways will play/But I know we can’t all stay here forever/So I want to write/my words on the face of today."

z man starstarstarstarstar Wed 5/14/2008 09:54AM
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I agree completely tourfan.

sfnola Wed 5/14/2008 01:58PM
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I made the mistake of missing their show at the Independent in SF, and I've been kicking myself since, especially after seeing their setlists. I still cant listen to "Mouth Full of Cavities" without getting the chills. It's never easy for a band to move on when a key player dies- some manage and even thrive (Dead, Allmans, AC/DC), some can't survive or go on as almost a cover band of themselves (Skynryd, Beach Boys, AIC). It's a delicate balance, but these guys seem to be finding the mix, and seem to be enjoying themselves doing it. Throw on their first album, and you see that while Shannon's voice is certainly prominent, it's really just one part of a true ensemble.

And, in the end, it's still just music. If they still want to play, and someone wants to pay them to do so, more power to them.

"I know you're laughing from the inside out"

reggie500 Fri 5/23/2008 11:34AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I think you're looking at this the wrong way, tourfan. Travis admits to being influenced by Shannon, but a lot of his other influences come out on the record and live as well. i think it's cool that they got somebody who has that influence. As far as them pillaging hoon's legacy, that's just not true. they were all living successful lives elsewhere and were drawn into this by the music. I spoke with one of he bandmembers after a show and he went into great detail about how they are paying for everything themselves without a label and are trying to do things the right way. They were not looking for a singer, travis just came along, and i think for them he was too good to pass up. they certainly never had auditions or anything like that, as far as i know. I for one think they have always been amazing in the way they have preserved Shannon's memory with integrety and honesty, and that really comes of in the live show and also in the dedication inside the new album. I remember when I first heard 'soup' that it was so different than the first record that it really surprised me. Same with the new one. I am shocked that these guys could come back after 13 years and release an album that holds up to the old ones. It is unprecedented. Travis is a GREAT singer...different in many ways lyrically and all from Shannon...but they had to get somebody who could sing in that range if they were to do the old songs.

wagsinnorthernva starstarstarstar Fri 5/23/2008 01:15PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

wagsinnorthernva

If they have made peace with there past and enjoy playing there song in which they helped create to make, and enjoy bringing there music to people then let the music play. Good for them, they were a great band, and I'll be interested to hear what they now sound like.