The Delevantes at Snagilwet, March 28

By Leonard January

Thank some superior being that the Delevantes are a great band. When I read a small blip in the newspaper that a group from the streets of New Jersey was going to perform in town I marked it on my calendar and put a star next to it. I was hoping that this band would do for me what another from the same area did many years ago _ The E Street Band led by none other than the great Bruce Springsteen. I was not disappointed. Not that these guys are better than the E Streeters but that they are able to evoke the same type of emotional output into each song they play and drive it straight through the hearts and souls of all the people listening to them. At least that's the way I felt. I realize that most of the audience were there to hear the headline show, The Spin Doctors, another New York-based group, but it was obvious to this writer that by the end of the Delevantes' first song, entitled "Cry the Rain," that this was a band that really had something to say in their songs. After listening to this tune, a country influenced ballad laced with an East Coast undercurrent force, I knew I was in for a great evening. Throughout this anthem, as well as all of their songs, brothers Mike and Bob Delevante serve up twangy, piercing vocals reminiscent of Phil and Don Everly. I guess if you were able to take the Everly Brothers and stick them in Hoboken, N.J., for twenty-five years, you'd have yourself a Delevante. That's also the stomping grounds of a youthful, pimply, skinny Frank Sinatra before he paralyzed every bobby-soxer in the United States. Maybe it's the water. Whatever it is, the Delevantes ran through a ten-song set that allowed each member to display his talents.

THe Delevantes. Photo by Dan Clinch

In song number two, "The Powers That Be," a tale of the hard life that we all must experience, is laid open to us. Drummer Ted Bonar and bass player Brad Finkel are one of the most solid rhythm machines that I've heard in a while. It's funny, but throughout the entire performance, most of the members were going up and down like an eight-valve cylinder engine, tuned to perfection. That's one of the benefits of playing on the road. You don't make a lot of money but you get real tight.

The best song of the night goes to "Neither Here, Neither There." It personifies the Delevantes down to the bone _ rugged, street-smart playing, twin harmonies and catchy hooks. It was difficult to understand the lyrics but, as in all great songs, the music was great and the hooks in all the songs were easily identifiable.

I was amused at one point in the evening when after playing the tun entitled "Everybody," someone from the audience yelled out to "keep it funky," and Bob Delevante replied, "God help us." Again, that's the price you pay for a mis-booking. You got to pay your dues and perfect your trade.

In their apropos closing song, a rocker entitled "It's a Living," the Delevantes understand that they have to take the good with the bad and play on. Best of luck to them. I'll be there to see them when they come blasting back into town.