Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Concert Review: Blue Healer @ Milkboy - Philadelphia, PA 05/05/16

When Fran offered this set to me, he described the line up; keyboards, an upright bass (a real bass) and drums. I was already interested.

I started formulating an impression, a spawn of Weather Report is what started to take shape. Then Fran said trip hop. That gave me an impression of the Chemical Bros. When I heard "30,000 ft" on YouTube I thought "OK, I like the Garden State soundtrack".

Reality offered a handshake though and quick-dropped its hand and met me with a nice straight kick in the balls. A very nice girl who saw Blue Healer in New Hope just days earlier looked down at me perplexed (rightly so, as there was no reason apparent for me to be curled up in a fetal position on the floor of Milkboy!) I was dropped. It's a fantastic thing to be introduced to a band live. Blue Healer are a seriously tight knit unit live. If I had never mentioned they were a trio and you heard their music from a CD, you'd have a tough time believing that.

They lay down density, atmosphere, melody and groove! There are so many great things going on with these guys. If John Bonnam where to try and fill in for Stewart Copland in the Police at the height of their power, that would give you an idea of drummer Deese's rhythm.  It's kind of a muscular calypso style of playing.  Finesse and power.

Bryan Mammel's keyboard is ambient and rootsy. Genetic Method by Garth Hudson comes to mind. Maybe even Steve Nieve. They are lock step in melodies or swirling the bass lays down. Yeah man! At times Dave Beck's bass is marching on Poland, other times it soars melodically and is just massive like Jaco on Hejira. They Crush three part vocal harmonies as well. I'm going to jump the shark here. I bought the CD after the set. After listening to it I can tell you this. The way they sound on this disc, the immense ambiance and the leave it on the stage urgency IS the way they sound live! If there are overdubs, you can't discern them. These guys smile a lot while they play. It's kind of knowing. Not only do they enjoy what they do but they clearly love the sound as much as the audience. I've seen some bands live who reproduce the record on stage to the letter and turn the live vibe into limp dick.

When I talked a bit to Dave Beck, he said this was a sound he had in mind when the band he was a member of previously folded. As it turns out Bryan and Deese where also members of said band. This has got to be why Blue Healer has the chemistry and tightly woven sound they produce live. They crush it effortlessly as a result and allows the band to really propel the songs and fill the venue with their massive sound.

I have to apologize to the band here. It's really lame and doesn't do the band justice to describe their sound by using other musician's styles to describe Blue Healer. I need a place to start from though. Garth Nieve, John Bonnam, Copeland, and Jaco can shift and mix gears and lanes at will.  They go from the spiritualized hymnal of "Only the Rain" to other times when I could hear the expanse roll in on "Luminescent Eyes" the way Roxy Music would usher in the night.

The end result is as genuine as it is BALLS TO THE WALL; dense, lush and swagger. I can't say enough good things about these guys. I highly recommend you contact these guys and hook up there CD Music For Your Car and catch them live.

Keep the windows down and your eyes on the horizon!


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