Mother Hips, May 2, 1998
Palookaville Night Club
Santa Cruz, CA

     --Guest Review, Scott Adams

     I have been anticipating the release of Later Days since the last time my buddy Todd Walsh and I visited Palookaville in November 1997 and Tim Bluhm hinted The Hips would be laying tracks for the new CD in the coming weeks. So despite being thoroughly exhausted, I pulled myself together and made the twisting drive over Highway 17 from Los Gatos. As I left the Valley I was thinking I would catch a few songs and pick up a couple few copies of the new album. If I thought I could go to a Mother Hips show and just catch only a handful of songs, I was only kidding myself.

     I walked into the club just after 10:30 p.m. to an intimate gathering of young and old music lovers enthusiastically anticipating the band's showing. The crowd came to life and seemed to double in size as the Mother Hips, one by one, climbed out of the side stage area. The band appeared in a good mood as they exchanged light talk and smiles whilst donning their respective instruments in the dim stage light. Kneeling in front of his monitor, Tim checked the sound with a few strums and twangs; guitarist Greg Loiacono and bassist Isaac Parsons both glanced to each other and then to drummer John Hofer. Wasting no time, the boys kicked it off and lit the place up with a five-song stretch including Whiskey on a Southbound, Stunt Double, Mother Hips, Do it on the Strings (with pristine duet singing), and Working Man's Blues, ("Merle Hagard, as you all know"). These mellower country style songs ensued until the band transitioned with The Cosmonaut. Songs like The Cosmonaut are what I consider the patented, inimitable Hips sound; the sweet melodies, quick rhyming and harmonizing vocals, all backed by the time-changing beat. It was then time for the rocking crowd pleaser, Stoned up the Road, followed by Such a Thing.

     Tim picked up his acoustic guitar for Gold Plated and Please Don't be Shy, then switched back to electric for the classic dueling guitars on Been Lost Once-complete with album version epilogue (I hadn't heard that live, ever)-followed by Magazine. Transit Wind was a crowd favorite, especially with the surging extended jam. October Teen followed, then a cranking Rich Little Girl, Esmerelda, andTwo Young Queens, with the latter sending the crowd into a foot stomping, jumping, and spinning frenzy. The title track, Later Days-another superb duet off the new album, about which Tim said, "This song must be good if it's the title track...right?"-was followed by Whiskey River and Superwinner. The set slammed to a close with the timeless Hey Emile.

     Of course the crowd wasn't satisfied with just 21 songs. After some raucous coercion, Tim and Greg eagerly reappeared as easily as if they never left, with Tim happily thanking the crowd for their support and for coming to the show. Some reveler shouted out, "It's not even midnight yet, you gotta keep playing!" The duo took this gentleman's advice and eased into a four-song encore that began with Stories We Could Tell. John and Isaac re-emerged from back stage and joined in about two-thirds of the way through the song. Next followed Buffalo Springfield's Mr. Soul, which the Hips covered in their own easy-riding, hushed-down version. Merle Hagard's melodic Sing Me Back Home and an emotional Lady Be Cool finished off the forty-minute encore.

     Once again the Mother Hips show made my night. Later Days immediately found its new place in my Jeep's CD player and sounded better than I could have hoped for on the winding drive home.

Copyright © 1998, Inc.

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