One of the benefits to working in Center City Philadelphia is the random free event that comes your way. Today it was a quicky show by Spin Doctors at World Cafe Live. The lunchtime event is part of WXPN's Free at Noon Series and was my first time at World Cafe in quite some time.
If you were a white, 40 something in the area around 32nd and Walnut today at noon, I think you were at this gig. Joe Manning (thanks for the idea) was the youngest person in the house except for the 5 year old girl whose parents brought her along and who enojyed herself, dancing in the aisles. The rest of us were graduating college the last time we saw a Spin Doctors show. At one point the bassist, Mark White whipped out his cell phone camera and took a picture of the crowd.
The woman next to me said "Look mom, our biggest crowd in 20 years!" when she saw him snap the picture. It may be true, but the original four Spin Doctors put on a good show, ripping out extra long versions of their hits "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" and "Two Princes," along with four other of their lesser-known numbers. It was pretty laid back, with lead singer Chris Barron sipping from a Starbucks cup, White snapping pictures, and drummer Aaron Comess looking relaxed behind his Yamaha kit, in a Union Jack t-shirt and flannel. Guitarist Eric Schenkman really stole the show, launching into extended solo riffs to close out each of the band's numbers.
After the XPN show went off the air, the band did an unreleased blues song called "Scotch and Water Blues" which Barron said was from the time that they used to play New York City blues clubs. Down on the floor, the music and vocals sounded strong and pretty crisp for what was essentially a rehearsal. In the back of the room, vocals were a bit muffled, but that was the room more than anything.
It was interesting to see this pretty stripped down show, with the Hartke and Marshall amps and road boxes right up on stage with the performers and almost no lighting effects at all. Having a good time with some good early 90s music was the rule of the day, no smoke, only music. Also interesting to see the band work the table, shilling the new (old) album. At least they are still performing...