This is the type of reunion show that music fans ache to see: four guys that put aside their differences to play music together for the fans and not a mailed-in performance for the cash grab. These shows are especially sweet for a fan like me who has owned the band's four studio records for a long time, but never got a chance to see them live.
The four original members -- Dan Zanes on guitar with his brother Warren on lead guitar, Tom Lloyd on bass and Woody Giessmann on drums -- are taking the chance to get out on the road and give it another shot with a tour of the towns that received them best all those years ago.
Zanes acknowledged from the microphone that they are an oldies act at this point: "We may be an oldies band, but you're an oldies audience, but we're only going to play a 90 percent oldies set." No one in the smallish audience seemed to care. The band ripped through three-minute songs about love and loss as the fans, mostly in there 40s and 50s, came to see the songs they remembered. For their effort, the boys from Boston delivered the goods with both great chops and good cheer.
Pulling material almost exclusively from their first two albums, "The Longest Day" and "Boston, Mass.," the Del Fuegos played a tight 90-minute set of their soulful, roots-rock material that demonstrated these guys are complete professionals. Dan Zanes took the center position singing and dancing with his guitar as his brother Warren Zanes, to his right, added spot-on guitar solos, while Lloyd and Giessmann held down the back beat with more roll than rock.
From the opening notes of the perfectly chosen opener "Sound of our Town," the band had the crowd excited and ready for some nostalgia. The dance floor started to fill with women twirling around in their dresses like a younger version of Stevie Nicks. Zanes acknowledged the dancers and advised that St. Louis was a progressive stop for the band. Zanes praised the crowd up front: "This is our first tour in over 20 years and first time we've had dancers before we had to start begging." He continued by saying he hoped that the show would see "men dancing comfortably by themselves." By the end of the show, he had that wish fulfilled.
Early in the set, the Zanes brothers got into a little brotherly tête-à-tête on stage, alluding to their longtime differences in Dan Zanes' lion share of the songwriting on Del Fuegos albums. Dan announced his brother Warren wrote the next song and that he had albums for sale in the back as well. Warren chimed in to advise that prior to the tour he wondered if he would have a mic this time and was "it going to be turned on?"
Slowing it down a bit, Zanes dedicated the sultry waltz of "Anything You Want" from "The Longest Day" to someone named Chantelle, and proceeded to make couples grab each other as the room oozed with sexual tension. After a healthy dose of their mid-'80s original material, they turned to a couple of covers to continue the theme of love with Gregory Isaac's "Night Nurse" and an acoustic version of the Willie Dixon penned R&B classic "You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover" made famous by Bo Diddley.
Moving back into their original material, their singles from "Boston, Mass." started showing up on the set list as "Don't' Run Wild" and a the upbeat rocker "It's Alright" energized the crowd.
After leaving the close quarters of the stage for the patio, the band returned quickly to build the crowd back up with the bluesy burner, "I Still Want You." After a cover of "Slipped, Tripped and Fell In Love" by Ann Peebles, they ended on another high note with the title track to their first album, "The Longest Day."
With the applause drawing them back to the stage again for a second encore, the Del Fuegos, like any band of certain age, paid homage to their influences. The group gave tribute to local rock 'n' roll patriarch Chuck Berry with a cover of his 1964 classic, "No Particular Place To Go" before moving down the Mississippi River to end with a dose of Memphis soul in Rufus Thomas' 1963 hit, "Walking The Dog."
By the end of the night, the Del Fuegos had given their fans another live memory they will always cherish, not a tarnished memory of what once was great. The quartet left the crowd an entertained, sweaty mess and gave their fans hope that maybe, all differences aside, this will happen again.
The Del Fuegos set list
Sound of Our Town
Hold Us Down
Hand In Hand
Wear It Like a Cape
What You Do
Anything You Want
Out For a Ride
Night Nurse (Gregory Isaacs)
You Can't Judge a Book By the Cover (Willie Dixon)
Have You Forgotten
Night on the Town
Don't Run Wild
I Always Call Her Back
I Still Want You
Nervous and Shakey
Slipped, Tripped and Fell in Love (Ann Peebles)
The Longest Day
No Particular Place to Go (Chuck Berry)
Walking the Dog (Rufus Thomas)