The Pernice Brothers - The Scala, London

Maybe it’s the bigger venue? Maybe Joe and co are quite literally burnt out? Maybe he’s not lying when he says he’s dying to have that honeymoon, but there was something decidedly off with The Pernice Brothers’ performance tonight at The Scala. A few months ago the band absolutely rocked the socks off a sell-out crowd at regular haunt The Borderline, but tonight’s half-empty Scala atmosphere just feels icy cold, and the set never gets going.

One Feet In The Grave, a strong stand-out track from brilliant new third album Yours, Mine & Ours opens proceedings, and right away it’s noticeable that bassist Thom Monahan’s microphone isn’t working, or that he is merely miming his harmonies. Once we are hurried through Water Ban and Working Girls it’s obvious that the band’s famous inter-harmony work is noticeable by its absence. Joe’s vocals are flat and strained, and the beauty depicted on record so frequently by the Pernice clan is being reduced to by-the-numbers performing.

Banter between Joe and the crowd is kept to a minimum (for his standards anyway) and he jokingly asks if The Sweeney is available here on DVD. When a witty crowd member shouts in reply “Shut It You Slag!” you only hope Joe gets the joke. That’s about as much of a rapport that we were treated to.

Six or seven songs in with Waiting For The Universe, it appears that normal service is starting to resume. Joe’s vocals sound toned, Thom is actually audible in harmony and lead guitarist Peyton Pinkerton doesn’t look out of it. In all honesty, the only performer who gave his all tonight (and was given the biggest cheer by the crowd) was madcap drummer Patrick Berkery, whose ferocious rhythm lifted tonight’s anticlimactic performance.

More songs are performed from the three studio albums, and after finishing with The Weakest Shade Of Blue , the band are brought back onstage again by the concert organisers which leads to a scheduled encore of Flaming Wreck, The World Won’t End’s most epic song. Sadly, it does little to redeem the mediocre level of quality on-show, and another crowd-endured encore is barely noticeable.

Given that the majority of The Pernice Brothers’ other UK gigs were cancelled, you’d have to be honest and admit that there is a whiff of contractual obligation about tonight’s performance. This is a shame, as Joe Pernice, on a good day (and as proved countless times solo or with the band at The Borderline) can be a musical world beater, just not tonight at The Scala.

Last updated: 19/04/2018 15:06:19

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