About midway through the opening set by Detroit’s The Sights you could close your eyes and just about be at the Fillmore in 1971 watching Humble Pie. In fact, if you squinted at the stage at diminutive frontman Eddie Baranek’s direction as he leaped about the stage, attacking his hollowbody Gibson, you might’ve just thought the ghost of Steve Marriott was in the house.
That’s no mean trick. Setting aside what a seminal figure in rock Marriott was, The Sights were merely the opening act. The centerpiece of the evening was the triumphant return of Tenacious D.
And when Tenacious D took the stage, and a giant “fenix” rose from the smoke to anchor the stage backdrop, it was clear who the headliners were.
Jack Black and Kyle Gass have been appearing as Tenacious D off and on for more than a decade. The last time I saw them was at a sold-out Madison Square Garden show in 2006. They were promoting an album and film — both called the “Pick Of Destiny” — and the vast Garden, and the mixture of hardcore fans and more casual followers perhaps drawn by Black’s then recent Hollywood stardom, meant the show was enjoyable, if a bit of a headscratcher.
In contrast, the 3,900-capacity Hammerstein Ballroom was faithful-packed, meaning the show — in support of the band’s hysterical new album “Rise of the Fenix” — elicited a reaction from the fans akin to seeing a reunion show by Black Sabbath. Chants, fists aloft, screaming out song titles; it was all par for the course during the nearly 2-hour show.
And Black and Gass delivered the goods. They rocked on acoustic guitars with backing from a stellar, tight band, delivering all of The D’s best-loved songs, closing with their backdrop “fenix” spewing orgasmic “confetti” and marching onto the ramp at the back of the stage to take a victorious bow.
Backstage, with lucky hangers-on groping each other on hidden stairwells and a raucous, if small party going on, The Sights’ Baranek talked of how well The D were treating his band and what a thrill it was to win over such a devoted crowd every night.
But The D were the true attraction last night, as it should have been. The faithful came out and were not disappointed.
Tenacious D and The Sights are on tour throughout the Summer and appear at the Hammerstein Ballroom again tonight.
This article is copyright 2012 by Jeff Slate. No part may be reprinted or referenced without permission and/or attribution. All rights reserved.