In Music

Marah bills themselves as "the last rock and roll band"

Thursday night at Mad Planet, Marah once again proved that they are more than worthy of the title and they showed why they have caught the attention of other great rockers, not the least of whom is Bruce Springsteen.

Look, if you weren't there Thursday night, you should be ashamed. Because when this band makes it big, and if they play their cards right they will, thousands of people will claim to have been at this weeknight show in Riverwest that was attended by maybe 150 people in all.

Nevertheless, at Mad Planet Thursday night Marah played not only like they were truly the last rock and roll band in the world, but like they were playing the very last rock and roll concert ever in front of 50,000 people.

The Philadelphia-based band, arriving on stage to a recording of the "Rocky" theme, simply blew the roof off the joint. They are the last of the bands that showcase the exuberance, the joy, the giddiness and sheer goofiness of rock and roll, and it was there for all to see Thursday night. Whether it's blazing guitarist Serge Bielanko's cigarette tucked into his guitar strings or woolen-capped lead singer Dave Bielanko growling about stumbling over empty beer cans, this is a band that personifies what is left of rock and roll. And that's a good thing.

Fresh off the release of their brilliant album "If You Didn't Laugh You'd Cry," Marah showcased the stage show which brought the likes of author Nick Hornby to his knees, a position which Dave Bielanko found himself while singing when he wasn't swilling from a beer bottle.

Marah plays like a band that's been together for 20 years, they look like a bunch of young punks that got thrown off of a Ramones tour bus, and yet they are clearly a band on the rise, a band on the verge of making it if the gods of rock and roll smile upon their disheveled visages.

By the time they roared into a cover of The Jam's "In the City" as their second number in a 14-number, 90-minute pre-double-encore set, the sparse crowd had already been won over. If that wasn't enough, when their lush, beautiful "20,000 Streets Under the Sky" from the album of the same name morphed into "White Demon of Sadness," the crowd itself was brought to its knees, if not its feet. Through it all, drummer Mike Ambs displayed the kind of wild-eyed thrashing that surely made Keith Moon smile down from the Great Beyond.

Even when Marah toned it down just as bit, as they did on the ballad "City of Dreams," they were reverent, yet still somehow raucous. The way they played with such wild abandon, you'd expect them to be the ones who lit the fireworks that burned the whole place down.

Yet they are too disciplined a band to need pyrotechnics to sell the show. They were tight, yet loose, letting the music speak for itself. And when they played the wild signature number "The Closer" to end their set, the crowd would eagerly have stayed for another two hours.

But, by the time they played "Walt Whitman Bridge" and staggered off stage for the last time, both the band and crowd were spent. It was time for that last call and wondering how half of the crowd would be able to drive the baby-sitter home.

It was a true Marah kind of night.

Talkbacks

OMCreader | Feb. 17, 2006 at 12:18 p.m. (report)

eaglescout said: The Figgs are a better bar band.

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OMCreader | Feb. 16, 2006 at 3:30 p.m. (report)

teebee said: This was an entertaining show though I'm not sure the band is destined for greatness. Tight and loose, they were, as Zaferos noted, and hot and cool as well. I was reminded of a cross between the Ramones and NRBQ, self-described as the world's greatest bar band. But that's by no means an insult. Here's to great bar bands, long may they rock.

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OMCreader | Feb. 15, 2006 at 3:48 p.m. (report)

Siobhan Moran said: This was a great show! Had loads of fun. The sound was awesome, the band was tight.

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OMCreader | Feb. 15, 2006 at 12:19 p.m. (report)

Blaine said: Egotistical-I'm sure they meant it tongue in cheek. But it's been a long time since I've seen a band with that much rock and roll spirit. Kind of an updated mix of Faces/'mats/Thin Lizzy/Springsteen/Stones/SouthSideJohnny. As the article says, the only cover was a tune by the Jam, and an early one at that. They seemed to be having a blast and presented it to the audience as such. They certainly didn't take themselves too seriously or behave like rock stars. Haven't seen an MKE band along these lines since the heyday of Affy Bangster & the Nerve Twins.

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OMCreader | Feb. 14, 2006 at 2:44 p.m. (report)

eaglescout said: seems like a pretty egotistical thing to bill yourselves as. wasn't there another "rock and roll band" on the same bill???

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