Concert Reviews: Chagall Guevara

Harvest Rock Syndicate
July/August(?) 1991, Volume 6, Issue 4
© 1991 Harvest Rock Publications
Page 5

The Library
Knoxville, TN
May 31, 1991

I knew from the beginning that this wouldn't be a "Christian" concert, but I have to admit I never thought the first time I would get to see Steve Taylor and Dave Perkins perform live, it would be under a large neon "Bud Dry" sign. Hey, these guys were my ccm heroes, boldly going where no Christian artist had gone before. So what the heck were they doing at The Library, home of obnoxious, inebriated university students, cheesy local bands, and the worst sound system God ever created?

They certainly didn't come to slide in any secret Christian message to the masses, after all, the only time I heard the name "Jesus" was when the guy in front of me got hit in the eye with a piece of ice. They clearly didn't come to please their faithful followers of the past, for when Perkins asked for requests, shouts of "Jim Morrison's Grave" and other "oldies" were countered with "That's too philosophical" or "We can't remember that one." Maybe they were just there to do a high-energy, musically tight, live performance of their MCA debut album, Chagall Guevara. If that was their goal, they certainly succeeded, and maybe even picked up some new fans in the process.

After the opening band, Wet Jonah (who actually sounded like something thrown-up by a large fish), failed to whip the crowd into a frenzy, I wondered how Chagall Guevara would satisfy the goofy shouts of "Crue!" that were being pelted from several drunks. When a recording of their bizarre cut "The Wrong George" started, I figured the guys were in trouble. After all, for some Knoxvillians this is instruction in proper phone etiquette, and from the audience response I could see they weren't getting the joke. CG had better do something--and quick. Coolly they broke into "The Tale O' The Twister," its contribution to the Pump Up The Volume soundtrack, and when Steve Taylor stepped on stage, Chagall Guevara owned the audience for the next two hours.

Throughout intense versions of "I Need Somebody," "The Rub Of Love" and "Escher's World" Taylor hopped, flipped, jumped, rotated and whipped his long hair around like a giant, skinny car wash. Pausing only to invite anyone who brought a saxophone to come up and join the band, the boys cranked up my personal favorite, "Play God," which featured Taylor on an interesting trombone solo. Next was "Monkey Grinder" featuring Perkins and L. Arthur Nichols on some of the best guitar work ever heard in East Tennessee, including the final chord which Perkins played with his teeth. Proving that Chagall Guevara could, indeed, put its money where its mouth is, the guys promptly produced a perfect version of "Can't You Feel The Chains."

The band next performed their tribute to Hank Williams titled, "I Still Know Your Number By Heart," a love tune about a guy who falls in love with his parole officer. The audience actually danced, thanks to the solid bass work of Wade Jaynes (who refused to sweat the entire evening). An extremely hyper "Take Me Back To Love Canal" followed. "Love Is A Dead Language" featured an extended instrumental jam while the aerobic Mr. Taylor took a well deserved rest. There was no rest, however, for drummer Mike Mead as he pounded out an exciting and flawless drum solo. Taylor rejoined the band to close out the first set with "If It All Comes True," "Violent Blue," and "Murder In The Big House," which showcased the award-winning Steve Taylor cartwheels.

After a short break Chagall Guevara returned with "Candy Guru," a rendition of Van Morrison's Them classic "Gloria," and a couple of reggae tunes requested by the audience, which closed the performance. Instead of hitting the showers, the guys wandered straight into the audience and happily got to know those who braved the late hours to hear the last note.

The Chagall Guevara performance certainly wasn't what I'm used to calling a "Christian concert," but it was fun, artistic, energetic, creative and painfully loud. As I left, I turned and watched the band members enjoying talking with their fans and, I must admit, while I witnessed them establishing new friendships and showing genuine interest in the people, I actually felt a fresh dose of spirituality. Dang, I think it's time to chagne my definition of "Christian concert."

Rick Baldwin