According to Dana Fuchs’ bio she was in a black Baptist Church when she received the advice from a ‘beautiful black woman’ to “Let Mama Music take over”. On Wednesday I was on the recieving end of that advice as a beautiful white woman truly did let the music take her over – and she took the whole audience over too with a mesmerizing vocal tour de force.
After numerous Blues based shows in barely two weeks I really feared this was going to be where for many the money would run out. Germany playing Italy didn’t help calm my fears either. Obviously word had got out though. Following Dana’s excellent Harmonie set on Rockpalast last year, and her short but oh so sweet slot ahead of Joe Cocker at Museumsplatz, there was a sizeable crowd packed into the Harmonie and buzzing with anticipation. Looking good, sounding great – Dana Fuchs The flashing twirling lights tell us this is a Rock show, and it’s central figure makes it clear from the word go that tonight she will be taking no prisoners. ‘Love to Beg’ starts Dana’s new CD and also starts her set. She may be a fox by name but the lady is a lion by nature. She constantly stalks from one stage side to the other. Stopping between songs to wave a shaggy mane of hair from big brown eyes. She kneels down, sits down, even lays down onstage. Never for long though. Seemingly always restless as she roars out tales of love – be it love found, love lost or just misplaced.
Much of the evenings show is made up of new tracks. No complaints about that though as the new CD is a real corker that might disappoint blues purists, but Thomas Ruf has pulled off a major coup in getting Dana’s signature on a contract and the songs on her first RUF release make for a powerful package. The full tilt rock of ‘Nothings what I cry for’ and ‘Faster than we can’ – the latter already a Fuchs classic in my opinion. They rock on the CD, but believe me they really ROCK onstage this evening. There are some delightfully quirky numbers on offer too: ‘Keep on Rollin’ is a ‘Streets of Laredo’ sort of ballad with a latenight barroom rythm perfectly timed by new drummer Tom Curiano. ‘Superman’ which Dana sings as if she should be holding a mike in one hand and a Jack Daniels in the other is another Fuchs/Diamond classic. “Superman left us at the voting booth” great stuff. Bassist Walter Laituperissa is on hand to add a sobre melodic counterpoint to the hardrock sound of the band and although I would think it takes a while to adjust to playing beside the Force of Nature that is Dana Fuchs after touring so often with the famously laid back Snowy White, he stands like a rock to do the job at hand – one of those musicians worth their weight of adaptable gold. Not forgetting Jon Diamond on guitar of course. Diamond was recovering from food poisoning but put in some delicately crafted solos on his Telecaster. The song/music writing partnership of Fuchs/Diamond has already produced some gems and one of the best is in the set tonight in the form of ‘What You See’, a Stadium Rocker AC/DC style if ever there was one.
A favourite musician of Dana’s is Otis Redding and a long time favourite song is ‘Loving you too long’. “Finally” Dana admitted onstage, “I had the courage to record it”. It makes a break from the rock and proves not just a great vehicle for Dana’s vocal abilities but also for John Diamonds Telecaster as he lays down a magical solo. I can imagine Cocker singing this – but not better than Dana Fuchs does. Any doubts about the power Dana has in her voice were dispelled when her microphone transmitter gave up trying to stay with it’s energetic owner and crashed to the floor “Sch**ss Technik!” as someone called out. Unphased she sang ‘sans microphone’ and still carried her voice up to the balcony. With everything plugged in and working the band could rip the roof off of a tank – as with the rocket fuelled encore ‘Helter Skelter’. My ‘Rock n Roll Church of Love’ is how Dana Fuchs describes her concerts. It’s not about selling us Buddha, Jesus or Scientology though. To Dana it’s not WHO you believe in that counts, but that you believe in something. It’s a creed that has helped her survive the suicide of a sister and the terminal illness of a brother. The former was inspiration for sister Donna on one of Dana’s finest moments to date, the hauntingly melodic ‘Songbird’ which was played this evening and dedicated as always to a sister who shared Dana’s dream of singing to the world. On tonights evidence the World will be eating out of Dana’s hands very soon. ‘Talent will Out’ as they say. Just sit back and let ‘Mama Music’ take over.
Dana Fuchs singing ‘Moment Away’ her moving tribute to the 9/11 victims