Monday, January 30, 2012

Tom Tom Club concert review: Riverside

Nacional Records/Cookman Mgmt.
It was infectious energy all the way as Tom Tom Club made their first live appearance in Riverside, Calif. on Friday night at Romano’s Concert Lounge.

An extension of last year’s 30th Anniversary tour – the first in a decade - the influential band led by Rock and Roll Hall of Famers/former Talking Heads members Tina Weymouth (bass/vocals) and husband Chris Frantz (drums/backing vocals) treated the moderate Inland Empire crowd to a nearly two-hour set.

Tom Tom Club’s most recent release is the 2CD set Genius of Live (Nacional). Disc 1 comprises an edited version of 2001’s Live at the Club House, which few people heard due to label troubles at the time. Disc 2 includes 11 new “Genius of Love” remixes from Latin artists like Ozomatli, Kinky, Money Mark, The Pinker Tones, Mexican Institute of Sound and others.

The idea for the reissue/remix albums came from Tomas Cookman of Nacional Records in North Hollywood, California. He manages Rock en Espanol band Los Fabulosos Cadillacs; Weymouth and Frantz produced their 1995 effort “Rey Azucar.”

Initially a side project from Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club was an immediate hit with their self-titled 1981 debut record, featuring the twin dance chart toppers “Wordy Rappinghood” and “Genius.” The latter reached #32 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became a favorite track to sample among rappers and hip hop acts (Grandmaster Flash, Public Enemy, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, 50 Cent) and most famously, Mariah Carey, whose “Fantasy” stayed at #1 for two months in 1995.  

Opening with the funky “Who Feelin’ It,” Weymouth and Victoria Clamp sang in tandem and shook their red sparkly mini-dresses around.

Weymouth mentioned she’d skied at Big Bear in the past and asked if anyone remembered CBGBs (the infamous NYC club where Talking Heads got their mid-‘70s start).

Clamp proved to be quite a lively presence all evening, often recalling Blondie’s Debbie Harry as well as the B-52’s when joined by Weymouth. The lengthy, mantra-like “Man with the 4-Way Hips” boasted a sinewy groove and steel drum solo by longtime keyboardist/percussionist/vocalist Bruce Martin.

“Suboceana” included plenty of turntable scratching from Frantz and Weymouth’s son Kid Ginseng. A ska-tinged “She’s Dangerous” (from 2000’s The Good, The Bad and The Funky) and the loping, reggae take on The Drifters’ “Under the Boardwalk” (a U.K. hit in the ‘80s) were highlights.

While looking at her clothes, Weymouth, 61, joked that she and Clamp were “punk cougars. We like to have our illusions and still shop at Forever 21.”

Several people who had been watching from afar suddenly made their way down to the front of the stage to shimmy along with the ladies on a fun “Genius.” Tom Tom Club’s cover of Hot Chocolate’s “You Sexy Thing” was equally entertaining.

Zany disco strains in “Wordy Rappinghood” kept the fans vigorously moving around. Finally, Chris, Tina & Co. treated the crowd to intriguing versions of Talking Heads’ “Take Me to the River” (via Al Green) and a sped-up “Psycho Killer.” - George A. Paul

Tom Tom Club, Romano’s Concert Lounge, Riverside, Calif., Jan. 27, 2012
Setlist: Who Feelin’ It/Punk Lolita/The Man with the 4-Way Hips/Suboceana/She’s Dangerous/L’Elephant/On, on, on, on/Under the Boardwalk/Don’t Say No/Kiss Me When I Get Back/Genius of Love/You Sexy Thing/Wordy Rappinghood
Encore: Take Me to the River/Psycho Killer

Romano’s Concert Lounge has headline talent periodically throughout the year, but 2012 has started off strong with this show. Next up in Cy Curnin of The Fixx and DJ Richard Blade (ex-KROQ FM), 9 p.m. Feb. 4, $20; Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers, 9 p.m. Feb. 10, $15;  Dave Wakeling’s English Beat, 8 p.m. Feb. 18, $22.50. 21 and over. 

For more information, go to or call (951) 781-7662. The Concert Lounge is adjacent to Romano’s Italian Restaurant, which has a full menu and is located at 5225 Canyon Crest Drive, near UCR.      

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