Art Alexakis, Chris Collingwood, Max Collins and John Wozniak – Songs and Stories – The Keswick Theatre – Glenside, PA – May 26, 2019
A couple of months after his shocking announcement that he is battling multiple sclerosis and a mere month before releasing his first solo album after decades of recording, Everclear singer/songwriter Art Alexakis took yet another new direction in the musical road. His idea was as simple as it was smart; Songs and Stories, an acoustic tour where he gathered four good friends (all of whom are lead singers of popular 90s-00s bands) where they all performed their own music, did some covers together, and followed up with a Q&A with the audience, where they would answer any questions or take audience requests.
The friends he called up to share the tour bus and stage with him were Chris Collingwood, lead singer of Fountains of Wayne, Max Collins, leader of Eve6, and John Wozniak, the voice of Marcy Playground. As Alexakis pointed out during the Q&A section of the show, when you get four adult men on the road, they all revert to 11-year olds, talking about sports and farts and laughing inappropriately at the silliest things.
The informal setup led to a fun and frisky performance, a group of former rock stars gigging like the bar band members they once were. You knew that things were going to be wildly nostalgic and fun when the four opened up together with a taut and credible cover of 60s protest song “Eve of Destruction.”
Then three band members disappeared backstage while Marcy Playground leader (who grew up in nearby Bryn Mawr, who knew?) did a smart solo set. He brought out such Marcy Playground faves and “Vampires of New York” and “Poppies” (which he explained was about the Opium War in China in the 1830s, believe it for not). He finished his set up with his band’s (and his) biggest hit, the once-ubiquitous “Sex and Candy.”
The other guys headed back onstage for another cover, a biting acoustic version of Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How It Feels” with Collins on lead vocals. Then Collins took over the stage, strumming his guitar for stripped back versions of Eve6 tracks like “Curtain,” “Open Road Song” and “Promise,” as well as a preview of his new band Fitness with their song new single “Matter of Time.” Then he closed out with one of his old band’s biggest smashes, a roughed-up acoustic version of “Inside Out.”
Chris Collingwood and the guys then saluted a FOW inspiration with a jangly cover of REM’s “Don’t Go Back to Rockville.” Then Collingworth performed some of his contributions to the band – as he later acknowledged he was the only one of the guys up on stage in a band with two songwriters, and his partner/guitarist Adam Schlesinger is responsible for some of the band’s better-known songs. However, Collingworth showed his writing chops as well with such lovely tunes as “Valley Winter Song,” “A Dip in the Ocean” and “Fire in the Canyon” (which he didn’t do in his set but performed during the post-show Q&A). He also shared “You Can Come Around if You Want To,” a song from his side-project Look Park.
Alone amongst the singer sections, the four guys got up for a non-cover, as Collingwood led them through a slamming, taut version of “Radiation Vibe” before Collingwood finished things up with a smoking version of FOW’s biggest hit “Stacy’s Mom” (with Wozniak adding wacky stage dancing.)
Alexakis took the final – and longest – set. He previewed his new solo album with “Sunshine Love Song,” which was an ode to his wife. He did some Everclear album tracks like “Song from an American Movie,” “Strawberry” and “The Twistinside.” Then he blew the roof off the place with delicate scaled back versions of the hits “Father of Mine,” “Wonderful” and finally “Santa Monica,” the song which Alexakis acknowledged had long ago made it possible for him to be there still performing all these years later.
A final group cover of “The Weight” by the Band wasn’t the end, though. After a brief break the guys came back out to take audience questions and requests. The guys were good-naturedly crabby in answering, though the questions were overshadowed by requests for obscurities and album tracks, as well as the occasional missed hit. After a generous 45-minute bonus session, the guys waved good night one last time and moved on the next town.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2019 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 28, 2019.
Photos by Jay S. Jacobs © 2019