Friday, June 22, 2018

Book of Love Brings Their Sweet 'Lullaby' to Gramercy Theatre


Damian and I saw Book of Love on their 30th anniversary tour at Highline Ballroom in 2016, so probably wouldn't have gone to last night's 30th anniversary gig for "Lullaby" if my friends' son's band (that I love) hadn't been opening. But they were, so we took the plunge. 

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With just seconds to spare before (said band) Strange Names went on -- the opener always starts right on time -- Damian and I caught up with our friend Christopher and (Strange Names lead singer) Liam's parents, and quickly got situated. Gramercy Theatre is a great venue for old-timers -- you can stand or sit or a little of both -- and we opted for the former when we found four chairs together. Although the seating area is in the back of the joint, the view is still quite good, thought not nearly as good as taking a load off on a school night. Strange Names -- so named because they are Liam Benzvi (lead vocals/keyboards), Francis Ximenez (guitar/vocals) and Fletcher Aleckson (drums) -- surprised us by doing a mixture of as older favorites as well as songs from their latest album. The single "Into Me" -- which I hear is being used on Netflix's "13 Reasons Why" -- is a modern-day gem. And album track "Rosa" is still my personal favorite. (I love kids who know their musical history enough to channel "Pet Sounds"!)  


Following their well-received set, Book of Love came out and put on a fun show that took the Gen X-heavy crowd back in time -- not unlike the one two years ago but with more focus on their sophomore album, as advertised. Although I didn't know it at the time, singer Susan Ottaviano explained that "Lullaby" was their attempt at a "Sgt. Pepper's" moment, and was influenced by the normal stuff of pop songs (love, less, regret) as well as the harrowing AIDS crisis, which was particularly catastrophic in the New York City art circles in which they ran. Liam's dad (Leslie) and stepmom (Laura) didn't know anything about them, but before leaving after a couple songs, Laura turned to me and said of Susan: "She sounds like Nico and looks like Ann Wilson." (Translation: My kind of heaven!)


Damian and I then went down to get a drink and got flagged over to the VIP seating area by our pal Nora Burns, who is close friends with Susan. Ended up watching the rest of the show with her there, reminiscing about buying the 12-inch single of "Boy" in high school, and falling in love with the band all over again. As a casual fan, I probably didn't need to see Book of Love twice in less than two years. But you never know when these opportunities are going to dry up -- and Strange Names were delightful -- so I'm happy I went.


Witchcraft ...


I always forget how this theater makes me feel so good ...


1 comment:

YC BC said...

I remain a fan after all these years. I fell in love with "I Touch Roses" the moment I heard it and saw them as the opening act for Depeche Mode in 1986.

Great bands, great concert, great times!

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