Friday, July 20, 2012

The Fixx album and OC concert review

The Fixx has always stood apart from the pack.

Ever since the British rock group first emerged in 1979, its frequently socially-conscious songs were a world apart from what topped the chart during the New Wave era.

Racking up a dozen top 20 mainstream rock hits from 1982-91, the quintet put out three studio efforts in the ‘90s. The last one came in 2003.

The intervening years saw The Fixx continue to tour sporadically (a memorable jaunt with Berlin and the Motels at the turn of the century resulted in a live CD recorded at L.A.’s Universal Amphitheatre).

I caught The Fixx’s brief, but standout set during a radio festival show in Irvine, Calif. a couple years ago and hoped they’d eventually come out with new material. Earlier this year, singer Cy Curnin’s solo show out here in the Inland Empire (see review elsewhere on this blog) whet my appetite even more.

Now The Fixx is finally back with another exceptional new studio album, Beautiful Friction.

Influenced by the world’s financial crisis of the past few years, leader Cy Curnin’s lyrics remain thought-provoking. First single “Anyone Else” (about self-reliance) is just as catchy as some of the modern rock radio staples from the band’s heyday.

Other highlights include the lurching “Girl with No Ceiling” (with repeated questioning refrain “where did the money go?”), blazing rocker “Follow That Cab” (key line: “risking points on my artistic license”), ethereal title track and simple acoustic-based closer, “Small Thoughts.”

In a thoroughly engaging 75-minute performance at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. on July 18, The Fixx gave concertgoers an ample serving of the fresh tunes.

Opening with harrowing classic “Red Skies,” half a dozen fresh songs followed. “Anyone Else” was elevated by Jamie West-Oram’s maelstrom guitar effects and the melodic chorus recalled “All is Fair,” from 1991’s Ink.

On “Just Before Dawn,” Curnin gestured dramatically while West-Oram and keyboardist Rupert Greenall conjured up a late 1960s psychedelic vibe.

During the manic intensity of “What God?,” Curnin gave some chatty patrons the “be quiet” sign. Meanwhile, the languid, nearly six-minute long "Beautiful Friction" wound through an enrapturing melody.

Then came the moment casual fans were waiting for: strong takes on old faves like “How Much is Enough?,” the environmentally-themed “Driven Out,” “One Thing Leads to Another” (a defining video of the early MTV era), “Stand or Fall” and intense main set closer, “Saved by Zero.” “Woman on a Train,” off 1984’s high water mark Phantoms, was a pleasant surprise. 

Come encore time, The Fixx gave diehard fans another early nugget in the funky “Deeper and Deeper,” “Our We Ourselves?” and singalong “Secret Seperation” (appended with a bit of Tina Turner’s “Better Be Good to Me” – both Curnin and West Oram were in the music video).  

All live photos by Bob Steshetz. View more of his work at

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