Review and photos by Fred Kuhlman
Promoter: Danny Zelisko Presents
Venue: The Rhythm Room
Date: Sunday March 31, 2019
Did you ever see one of those bands that just seemed to be bigger than the venue they were playing in, that was my impression of Brand X. I had not heard of the band prior to their concert gig, but I love jazz especially with a rock and roll flavor so I decided to check them out.
The show started with Danny Zelisko (the promoter) doing his normal “What Upcoming” announcements. He then introduced the band and the 4 members entered the very small stage. Brand X is currently made up of two of their original members, John Goodsall on guitar and Percy Jones on bass guitar. They are joined by drummer Kenny Grohowski and Chris Clark on keyboards. A fifth member normally plays with the band, but tonight, percussionist Scott Weinberger was not with them.
As with most jazz fusion bands, there is not much singing, just amazing music performed by some highly talented musicians. And Brand X fits that bill. They did a 2-set show with a short break between set and ended with a 1 song encore. They started the night with “Smacks of Euphoric Hysteria”. At one point in the show, Chris Clark joked that this was really the “Born Ugly and Still Ugly Tour”. This got a laugh from everyone including the band. That just happened to be the next song they played, “Born Ugly”.
It was strange that when the band was about to take a break between sets, their manager came out and told them to do 1 more song. At first the band looked a little confused, but added another song. When the band took a short break, we came to discover why they played 1 more song. It seemed that Danny Zelisko decided to order a cheese burger for everyone in the bar as a special treat and they were waiting for the delivery. So not only did we get a great night of music, but also something to eat. Thanks Danny.
Over the years I have seen a number of bands and some of the greatest bass players, the flashy ones, Flea, Sting, Roger Waters, Paul McCarthy and Billy Sheehan to the more subdued, Andy West, John Entwistle and John Myung. Tonight, I can add another to this outstanding list, Percy Jones. At different times during the show, Percy would do mini solos that set the mood for the upcoming song. Kenny Grohowski did an excellent job on drums even when the rest of the band decided to improvise. The keyboard solo done by Chris Clark reminded me of Keith Emerson. Then there was John Goodsall. He was always moving back and forth in the stage light which made him hard to photograph, but his playing was outstanding. Sometimes between songs, John would make jokes with his somewhat dry English wit.
To get a real feel for just how good Brand X is, you just had to look at the audience to understand. When you see a number of people for other bands in the audience, then you know there is something special about the performers. If you love jazz fusion and get a chance to see them on their east coast leg of this tour, then they are really worth it.
The Rhythm Room is a small bar in downtown (10th Street and Indian School Rd) in Phoenix, Arizona. It holds about 250 people both seating and standing. And for tonight’s performance it was packed. For a small bar, the sound quality was very good and the stage lighting was OK. They could have used a little more light on the guitarist but the rest of the stage was well lit. I understand the allure of performing at a small bar where the band can see everyone and really interact with the audience. In the late 70s and early 80s, a little company called Evening Star Productions owned and run by Danny Zelisko use to bring bands to a small bar in Tempe called Dooley’s. Tonight’s show reminded me a lot of those old concerts.
Photos © Fred Kuhlman 2019, All Rights Reserved
This is my best estimate of the setlist played tonight. If I got something wrong, please let me know and I will update it ASAP.
Brand X setlist:
Smacks of Euphoric Hysteria
Not Good Enough-See Me!
Noddy Goes to Sweden
The Ghost of Mayfield Lodge
Why Should I Lend You Mine (When You’ve Broken Yours Off Already)…
Keyboard solo – Chris Clark