WBOS Concert at Copley Square
August 19, 2004
By Valerie Cwiekowski
Pat McGee Band had the odds against them as they took the stage in the finale
of the WBOS 92.9 Summer Concert Series at Copley Square Thursday night: blustering
winds, screaming sirens, and omnipresent honking from the disgruntled drivers
stuck in rush hour traffic, combined with technical difficulties, slightly
diminished the band's performance throughout their ninety-minute set.
The Virginia sextet, led by front man singer Pat McGee, constructed a comfortable niche for themselves over the past eight years, touring in major cities and college hotbeds from coast to coast. The band's live shows are infectiously entertaining and energetic, as the band has the talent to stretch a 3 and a half minute studio track into a 9 minute improvised jam that leaves packed houses of fans clamoring for more.
A delicate blend of pop friendly lyrics and guitar-heavy licks, the Pat McGee Band certainly knows how to play, and play well. Currently on tour promoting their latest release from Warner Brothers Records "Save Me", the Pat McGee Band is poised to make the leap onto the Top 40 radio scene.
Playing a set laden with tunes off the new album and short by their standards (PMB normally rocks a two hour set each night), McGee and his bandmates were on the mark for "Must've Been Love" and "Annabel," two fan favorites off "Save Me." Backed on vocals by keyboardist/guitarist Todd Wright and newly anointed bass guitarist Chris Reardon, McGee's vocals were clear and powerful, despite competing with the rush hour traffic to the left of the stage. Drummer Chris Williams was sharp all night; Williams stole the show on "Set Me Free" and "Don't Give Up," ripping through the beats and drawing the crowd in.
The band dropped a few older tunes into the set list that evening, much to the delight of the crowd who gathered in front of the stage early in the afternoon for the band's concert and shouted their requests to the stage throughout the concert.
Playing tunes off their commercially disappointing debut album "Shine", "Fine" showcased the vocal abilities of McGee, Wright, and Reardon as the trio nailed the three-part harmony, much to the crowd's enjoyment. Having the three-part harmony is a luxury McGee is thankful to have, as few bands out there can bring three capable singers with good range to the stage every evening.
Pat McGee Band also played fan favorites "Haven't Seen" and "Lost," the latter of which featured blistering guitar work from Brian Fechino and a nice jam session from Fechino, Williams, and percussionist Chardy McEwan.
Midway through the set, the Pat McGee Band launched into their first single off the new album, "Beautiful Ways." Storming up the HOT AC radio charts and landing on the number 36 spot on the Billboard's Adult Top 40 chart a few weeks back, "Beautiful Ways" sports catchy lyrics (you started out lovely / then somehow you changed me / you thought it'd be easy, you see) and an infectious beat that listeners are embracing.
The band was again met with thunderous applause after playing the heartbreaking ballad "You and I." Perhaps one of McGee's best songwriting efforts to date, fans sung right along with McGee as his vocals wailed throughout the song. "You and I" is the theme song to the WB's summer hit show "Summerland" and would undoubtedly find a home at top 40 radio stations if released as a single.
PMB closed the set with the powerful "Don't Give Up," which is featured in the Olympic promotional ads for NBC stations. McGee and Fechino returned to the stage for the first song of the encore, "Shine," before being rejoined by the rest of the band for the fan-favorite, jam-based "Rebecca" that had everyone in attendance rocking out and dancing on the lawn.
It is their improvisation and seamless transition from guitar solo to percussion solo, the swagger of front man McGee, and the catchy, heartfelt lyrics about misguided relationships and misplaced love and blistering two hour shows that have helped the Pat McGee Band build a strong and devoted fan base across the country in spite of minimal commercial success. "Save Me" is the breakout album bands strive to make at any point in their careers; the guitar work is standout; the rhythmic section of Williams and McEwan more than holds its own, and the vocals deliver lyrics that can make a person laugh and cry in the same song. This might be the first time you have heard of the Pat McGee Band, but it certainly will not be your last.