Musical Review – Schiavone McGee
Posted by The Bludge on November 17, 2011
Having been a fan back in Fighting Gravity days, and having purchased the CD online prior to the show, I was very much looking forward to Schiavone McGee performing at Ned Devine’s in Herndon on the appropriately special 11-11-11.
First, the new CD does not disappoint. The strong, electric voice that made an all-ages crowd back in The Bayou days get up and jump shone through and grabbed my attention immediately. I did not have to wonder what my reaction would have been had I not been familiar with his voice, as I played the music for 2 friends that weren’t familiar with Schiavone or his old band – both of them came to the show with me, if that indicates their approval.
Though the new CD bears Schiavone’s name, the new music is backed by a full band, one that adds a wonderful, complex auditory back-story. All of the music is well thought out, placed just-so, and Schiavone should be proud, because he put his heart and soul into this album. It shows. He clearly possesses the talent it takes to create something with a lot of parts and not have any pieces leftover.
Schiavone’s venture away from ska definitely doesn’t come across as a foreign sound. His voice lends itself well to this more mature rock sound. The theme of Schiavone’s solo release seems obvious: personal growth; a shedding of the assumptions of youth. The lyrics paint a reflective look back that I think most of us can relate to, trying in vain to help someone only to realize that sometimes you have to let go. There is evidence of the clarity you get when you stop clinging to something that you’re only attached to by irrational emotion. He seems to have found that there is freedom and independence in taking control of your life. From my vantage, the result seems to be a relaxed confidence.
Though he has been the front-man, and likely had an ego inflated by thousands of fans over the years, Schiavone’s album clearly states: This is mine, and I know it’s good. There’s no bragging. It’s just true. The confidence isn’t ego, Schiavone just owns this as a part of his life–a big, public part, but just a part, and his pieces seem to be fitting together a lot more smoothly these days. Dare I say it comes with age and experience; though Schiavone’s appearance and voice have not seemed to age.
Similar to his vocal prowess not aging, his stage presence has not faded. I believe he might actually be more comfortable on stage than off. As he steps behind the mic the shift between ‘Vonz’ and ‘Schiavone McGee’ is apparent, though it’s a smooth transition. Probably this is true of most performers. When presenting ourselves and our art we are in control, but when we step down from the podium we’re vulnerable to people’s opinions and, in this case, several very drunk women.
Schiavone and his band played numerous new hits as well as some Fighting Gravity tunes, to the delight of many fans that cheerfully sang along at (almost) all of the right spots.
This clearly was Schiavone’s show; the band, though extremely solid, did not have many opportunities to shine. I confess that I’m horribly absent-minded and easily distracted so that could just be my ignorant perception, as I’ve never been a guitar, bass, sax player, or drummer.
So, after returning to my “real job” I played some of Schiavone’s new songs as well as some old, fun, Fighting Gravity tunes and my co-worker not only became an instant fan, but is also anticipating Schiavone’s next gig. I think this speaks volumes for 1) my friends/family having AWESOME taste, and 2) the beauty of Schiavone’s voice.
When I go to good shows, or hear some really good recorded music it stirs up my emotions, making me want to write music of my own. Unfortunately, that’s not my forte, but I did get to take some great photos of ‘Vonz’ and photos of the crowd that he requested:
My favorite of Schiavone
Guitarist Michael Sauri
For more photos, please visit my photography site: www.eileenporter.com/fame