Truth & Memory: Live & Unleashed at Arlene Grocery
From the 'Jeff Buckley International Newsletter's' Review of this Live Show. The Fenwicks: Live and Unleashed at Arlene Grocery, New York City- 6/12/02 by Diane Rea How many men does it take to form an 'Afro-Celtic Yiddish Ska' band? The answer surprisingly is far fewer than the number of people that were packed into Arlene Grocery on Wednesday night (yes, a weeknight!) I arrived just in time to grab a beer and the best six-inch square piece of floor that I could find before the return of New York's long lost, but recently reunited Fenwicks. And in case you missed the lead, yes, they are an Afro-Celtic Yiddish Ska band. (Only in New York/Jacksonville/Jersey City/Israel...) One of the most popular live acts in the city, The Fenwicks broke up in 1996, but luckily they don't seem to have lost any of the fun or fervor that made them so appealing in the interim. The nine-piece group hardly needed introduction or announcement as they took the stage to the opening chords of 'Back in Black' (hey, it takes balls to tackle an AC/DC cover), with frontman Steven Schub swathed head-to-foot in a burqa, doing his best Bon Scott. Quickly tiring of AC/DC, the charismatic - and sparkly (and I don't mean this in the figurative sense) - Schub ripped away the robes to reveal a full Superman suit and a head of hair that could only lead one to assume he'd had a mishap or two with a box of Crayolas. From there, The Fenwicks launched into a set that treated the audience to everything from 'Yiddish ska in the key of love' ('You, Me, and Heresy'), to a song that allegedly bankrupted a record label ('Another Deadly Mother'), to an ode to a Hell's Kitchen transvestite prostitute named Bob-ara ('My Mushy Tushy Baby'). They were even kind enough to dedicate a song to everyone but the people in the room, but, sadly, the people out on Stanton Street had no idea what they were missing or they would have quickly hauled ass into the club. And if that weren't enough to sate the crowd's appetite for these long-lost favorites, they even managed to squeeze in a really new tune called, I think, 'Truth and Memory'- a song so brand spanking new it didn't even make it on to their most recent album 'eudaimonia'. The Fenwicks seemed comfortable and happy to be back in New York, and the audience was having so much fun that they seemed stunned when the band announced it's last song. Fortunately, they did manage to squeeze in an encore, in which they performed a medley of Nick-At-Nite theme songs, and also proved that they are perhaps the only band in existence that can 'blah, blah, blah' their way through 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand' and still sound good. Now that The Fenwicks are reunited, we'll hopefully be seeing (and hearing) more of them in the near future. It's been a few years, but these guys don't seem to have had any trouble getting back on the bicycle. If anything, this most recent run seems to have given them a means of unleashing the mass quantities of manic energy that seem to have built up over their brief hiatus - and fans will no doubt be thankful for this. Luckily, we have their assurances that though they may 'vaporize from time to time', as long as there is a planet Earth, there will be The Fenwicks. But for the meantime, The Fenwicks are most definitely un-vaporized and ready to rock.