“When we were selling 50,000 records a week,” remembers Chris Barron, “I’d walk into a mall to buy underwear and 300 kids would surround me!” A Harp playing blues girl and a powerpop band that a few years ago was all the rage with commercial tunes and witty lyrics. Stacie Collins was blowing harp and Chris Barrons band The Spin Doctors were prescribing a good time for all. The only losers were those who stayed at home.
This was one of those evenings when who would be the second act onstage was toss of a coin stuff. In the event Stacie Collins and ‘the Al-mighty three as she calls her band led by husband Al Collins’ were first to plug in before the watchful eyes of the Rockpalast camera team. “Live is where the music comes to life” she said in a Rockpalast interview before the show, adding with a smile, “Maybe the last legal high!” She wasted no time reaching that high – delivering a blistering boogie for openers with ‘My Baby Sister’ and ‘I Love my Baby’ and keeping the energy level on ten throughout. Hers is a Nashville tinged Country Blues Rock sound that I found came over just a little flat on her records at times but onstage it’s pure dynamite even on the more Countrified numbers like ‘Hey Mister’ and the beautiful ballad ‘It Hurts To Breathe’ which walks a gorgeous tightrope between Country schmaltz and Rock Ballad without falling off either side.
The Rockpalast cameras certainly weren’t having it easy with Stacie Collins. She was not only constantly on the move onstage, but during ‘I Ain’t Got You’ left husband Al Collins on bass (Jason & the Scorchers), drummer Ryan McCormick and guitarist Jon Sudbury to take a walk. Harmonica in hand, she headed through the packed crowd to climb onto the bar itself and blow – an electrifying performance from an electrifying girl.
Stacie Collins – Not an easy act to follow. Enter, after a furious change of onstage equipment by sweating onstage technicians, The Spin Doctors. The good Doctors had their biggest moment in faraway 1992 with ‘Two Princes’. A feel good sounding single that was picked up on by MTV and meant, as singer Chris Barron baldly put it during the show, “us never having to work again”. Well actually the band DO work, and damned hard, to give us a hugely memorable show full of fire and fun. Mark White looks super calm on bass whilst on drums Aaron Comess looks like every strike on the snare might be his last and must be perfect. Over on Barrons left, guitarist Eric Schenkman looks like he’s just making things up as he goes along – super cool, with a 70’s guitarmans hairstyle and a 60’s guitarmans attitude and delivering steely electric bolts that underpin the melody with a glorious metal frame. Barron waves his legs into the air like he was a former employee of that famously non-existent Python Govt department the Ministry for Silly Walks and delivers just the right balance between serious attitude and wry humour (asking at one point “Do you have beer in Germany?”.
The hits were on display of course – ‘Two Princes’, ‘Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong’ and ‘’Pocketful of Kryptonite’ (Jimmy Olsens Blues) but even better was the material from their new disc ‘If The River Was Whiskey’, an out and out Blues disc of the kind that long time purveyors of such music like fellow Doctors the Feelgoods and Nine Below Zero would be proud. From Opener this evening ‘What Time Is It?’ to closer the crazily energetic ‘Yo Mamma’s Pajama’ the band were a joy to both watch and hear.
Passing the merchandise stand after the show I was surprised to see the familiar face of Thomas Ruf behind the t-shirts and boxes. I hadn’t realized that the Spin Doctors new disc was on RUF Records. I should have known that Thomas wouldn’t miss the potential of a band that clearly loves playing Blues as much as he and we love hearing it. There was a party atmosphere around that t-shirts and CD sales desk long after anything was actually being sold that said all the people present – musicians and listeners – had a good time tonight. What better can you say about a night out anywhere than that?