Intimate probably wouldn't be the first word to come to mind when describing the music of Frank Black. It is, however the perfect word to describe his October 30 show at the House Of Blues in Cleveland, Ohio.
Born Charles Thompson IV, this month's featured artist has had a long career in music, spanning back to the days he was known as Black Francis as a member of the Pixies. The alternative rock band whose music was heavily influenced by the punk and surfer genres released five studio records and 12 singles in their nine year stint. When the band dissolved, Black Francis became Frank Black and his music took a new shape and form as well.
It was this incarnation that took the stage Monday night and delivered a short acoustic set, including "California Bound," "The Shrimp Song," "Abstract Plain," "Two Reelers," and a few others before bringing out his band. Together, they rocked the house for another twenty-one songs of his signature brand of music propelled by his driving guitar and accentuated with his delivery, varying from soulful and melodic to mournful howls calling out from somewhere deep inside.
The band behind Black was exceptionally tight and had just as much energy as the crowd who showed up to take in the evening of entertainment. Members were Erie Drew Feldman (Bass), Duane Jarvis (Guitar), Billy Block (Drums), and Jack Kidney (saxophone, harmonica). Driving guitars, mournful howls, and high energy -- but didn't I say the show was intimate?
The Cleveland House Of Blues is much like the only other one I've ever been in (Orlando), but I assume the individual units of the franchise all have the same small feel. The surroundings added to the atmosphere, which gave the overall feeling these guys just came over to jam in your living room, but it was more than that.
When introducing the band after the acoustic set, Black said they were there to keep him mindful of the time, to keep his show moving. And move they did, from one rocking song to the next, only randomly and intermittently slowing it down. At another point in the show, while communicating with a familiar face, he stopped himself, saying "less rock, more talk. No, the other way around," before breaking into another song -- rocking the house yet again.