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Craig Greenberg Band Joe's Pub at the Public Theater August 23, 2014 New York, NY
On his debut as a bandleader at Joe's Pub, singer-songwriter Craig Greenberg took to the stage with his band for a show billed as his "Birthday Show," opening with the original "I'm Coming Around," an up-tempo rock tune whose arrangement focused on his piano style, which bears some resemblance to that of Elton John but with more of a blues-tinged flair. He followed that with "That Girl Is Wrong for You," another original that had more of a country vibe. He was backed by a solid ensemble that was rounded out by Chris Kelly (bass, backing vocals), Scott Tofte (drums, backing vocals), Patrick Brennan (guitar) and guest performer Scott Stein (keys, backing vocals), who complemented Greenberg's sound with electronic keyboard sounds.
One of the highlights was "Fools and Thieves," one of the few slower-tempo tunes on the set, which he described as part of an upcoming album. Greenberg didn't do much talking, choosing instead, as he said from stage, to "keep things moving." He switched to acoustic guitar for one of the numbers, but stated his preference for playing the house Steinway. Another great moment came with the evening's sole cover, a recreation of "Tempted by the Fruit of Another" by the British band Squeeze.
The band's arrangements were quite creative, using plenty of Beatle-esque three-part harmonies and interesting bass/drum exchanges. There could have been more of Brennan's guitar (he played just a few solos among his clever riffs), but considering that the bandleader is also a skilled pianist, there might not have been enough space for more guitar solos. The set ended with "All the Pretty Things," a hard-rocking number that got the audience movingand hoping for a longer set.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.