Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Del Fuegos, Reunited And Back On The Road

I haven't found anything on the web to support this, but I've been told Dan and Warren Zanes spotted the name for their future band on a road atlas. They traced the Number 5 highway as far south as it went, to its final destination. You couldn't get any lower than Tierra del Fuego: ergo, the Del Fuegos.

Here's another early band story, with attribution: in the band's first year or two on the road, the budget for alcohol exceeded the Del Fuegos' budget for gas. No small feat, considering this was the 80s, when beer was cheaper than gas and gas was cheaper than water. Close observers knew the band's days were numbered.

Actually, close listeners knew it, too. When Smoking In The Fields was released, it became obvious that, as Gordon Lightfoot put it, “the alcohol was no longer helping.” Smoking is a sturdy enough album, but there are lyrical indications that at least one band member was slipping lower than Tierra del Fuego, into a place no-one really wants to hear about. If they were going to survive — as human beings, never mind as a band — the Del Fuegos had to hit the reset button.

Two decades after the reset button was hit, the Del Fuegos are back, delighting fans and I daresay themselves with energetic and focused performances that are the exclusive domain of the clean and sober. I'll try not to be bitter in my envy of the good folks in the remaining seven (of 11) US northeastern cities, but if you count yourself among these lucky citizens you should avail yourself of the chance to catch these well-seasoned rockers.

For those of us who can't make the drive, there is a collection of new Del Fuegos songs to be heard: Silver Star (A, e, i). Fans who gratefully partook of Dan Zanes' family-oriented rock 'n' roll pretty much know what's on tap. The Del Fuegos are in a celebratory mood, as the (for now) free track “Friday Night” indicates. For my money, the collection closer “Raw Honey” is the stand-out track, hearkening back to the erotic slow-hand contemplations of yore.

While I'm certainly digging the new material, I do kind of miss the low notes the younger band hit. The demons of a narcissistic youth have been shackled and banished, as is right, but surely other dark shadows loom. Maybe instead of looking south, the Del Fuegos could glance northward: hell, up here in Canada we're gutting the Alberta/Saskatchewan landscape until the place looks like Mordor. That's not just our grandchildren we're throwing onto the pyre of cheap fossil fuel — we're throwing yours, too!

But I digress. Concert-goers get the full range of low and high notes, which is the way it oughtta be. See 'em if they show up in a town near you. The rest of us will wait in hope that the Del Fuegos reunion tour might just expand to include us, too.

Photo from here.

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