Thursday, April 16, 2015
Review and photos by Seth Rogovoy
(PITTSFIELD, Mass.) – Time and trends may have finally come around for the BoDeans, who have played an Americana-tinged style of heartland rock since forming in Wisconsin in 1983, during the reign of new-wave, dance-rock and hair-metal, and years before anyone used the term “Americana” to describe the kind of music the BoDeans play. But as heard at the Colonial Theater on Thursday night, it’s a timeless style of music that defies fads and always pleases, rooted as it is in Buddy Holly and Bo Diddley, with Cajun, country, Celtic and Tex-Mex flavorings added with fiddle, mandolin and accordion accents.
BoDeans has always been the nom-de-bande of folk-rock singer-songwriter Kurt Neumann, a genial, unassuming frontman and guitarist who took the audience at the Colonial on a journey through the band’s three-plus decades of music. The musicians who now constitute the BoDeans are mostly recent hires – in fact, the one instrumentalist who goes back the furthest with Neumann as a studio accompanist, touring member, or official band member is the Berkshires’ own Kenny Aronoff, the superstar rock drummer best known for his work with John Mellencamp and Melissa Etheridge, but who has played on and off with Neumann and BoDeans since the late 1980s.
While the band’s material spans U2-like anthems to Springsteen-like dirges to Mellencamp-like heartland rock, they may be best thought of as a kind of Midwestern version of Los Lobos, minus the jazzy experimentalism of that group, but similarly rooted in a North American traditionalism.
While all the musicians clicked and served the material well, Aronoff was by far the star of the evening, powering the material along with his monster dynamics that at times spilled over into Keith Moon-like lead playing. Aronoff is a timekeeper, yes, but more than that, he really is an orchestral percussion section. Being the hometown hero, the crowd was seemingly on hand as much simply to see and hear Aronoff as the BoDeans. Neither disappointed.