Marah Minus One @ the Duck Room
I’m on record as saying that Marah‘s Kids in Philly is one of the greatest rock and roll records of this decade, and if I’m not on record saying Marah is one of the best club bands you’ll ever see, then, there you go, I’m on record.
But the band’s return to St. Louis this past Thursday found them without brother Serge, the essential foil to lead singer and principal songwriter Dave Bielanko. Curmudgeons might say this isn’t really Marah; thankfully, curmudgeons weren’t at the show. Serge is on maternity leave (he’s a new father), and the band has gone through some substantial line-up changes over the last 12 months. But the new rhythm section is taut and sharp, and singer and keyboardist Christine Smith (whose addition flummoxed a number of now departed band members) fit in well with Bielanko’s sweat-spraying rockitude.
The band swung back and forth between Kids in Philly songs and most of last year’s terrific Angels of Destruction!, as well as unreleased material and two Chuck Berry covers: “Too Much Monkey Business” and “Come On,” the latter featuring a walk-on guitar assist from the Bottle Rockets’ Brian Henneman. Mid-way through the evening, I somehow convinced myself that the band needed a round of Jack Daniels, forgetting that Bielanko is on the wagon. The drummer appreciated the shots, while Dave just nudged the cup of poison away from his guitar pedal. But before the end of the night, he knelt down, took a sip, and then spat it out across the stage–just one of the night’s many instinctive rock and roll gestures.