Music Reviews — 08 February 2012
Scars on 45 at Joe’s Pub: A Concert Review

Scars on 45
Joe’s Pub, New York, NY
February  7th, 2012

Concert Review: Scars on 45 at Joe's Pub


English rock music has permeated American culture on countless occasions over the past fifty years. In the beginning it was the Fab 4, landing in New York City to the screams of teenage women, desperate to “meet” these fresh faced mop tops. Years later the we would would get to know a band of brothers who produced brilliant tunes, but couldn’t stand each other enough to keep their successful act together. Tuesday night at Manhattan’s Joe’s Pub, New Yorkers got a glimpse of Scars on 45, a band who embodies the talent, personality, and raw energy of their previous British brethren, in the midst of their first ever headlining tour. Far be it for us to make the leap from The Beatles and Oasis to Scars on 45, but equipped with a radio-friendly sound and a unique lineup, the band’s hour plus set in an intimate setting showcased perhaps pop music’s next big UK import, leaving the audience rallying supportively with a standing ovation.

Portland, Oregon’s Anya Marina would open the show with a jovial yet abbreviated set. The bleach blonde Pacific Northwester mused about her experiences in Manhattan in between performances of her peppy rock tunes, and repeatedly engaged the crowd creatively, in support of the release of her new album, ‘Felony Flats’ (March 13). A short while later, Scars on 45 would take the stage in front of a now sold out room. It would be our first experience at this intimate venue which places the audience right in front of the musical act of the evening. A long room with dinner tables and dim lighting, this historic atmosphere has housed countless iconic musicians and still holds a true old school New York feel.  The members of ‘Scars’ took the stage to a round of applause from fans who have only been able to listen to them before. Lead singer Danny Bemrose, genuinely excited to take the stage in New York City, praised the crowd for dropping by, and performed for the modest audience with the intensity of an arena show. With the brilliant help of Amie Driver, his immensely talented harmonizing vocalist, the band riled the crowd to excitement from the get go, as the tables around us clapped and stomped in unison, along to the band’s signature acoustic meets electric sound. From the collaboration of the pair’s vocal harmonies to the beauty of their electric guitar solos laid over an underlying cacophony of acoustic rhythm, the 6 piece stage band performed with exceptional intensity considering their music is essentially pop.

The band’s set was perfectly crafted, mixing their brand of up-tempo, hook laden rock songs with gradually decelerated ballads, serving as a perfect platform to flaunt Scars on 45′s best assets: the mind-blowing voices of their two lead singers. Between songs, the bandmates playfully argued on stage, joking with each other about their tour habits and experiences getting drunk and trying to understand the Super Bowl. But banter aside, the band needed nothing to deflect from their abilities. Tracks like “Tomorrow Won’t Die Too Soon” and “Promises and Empty Words” were especially memorable as the set opened, as was Driver’s superb solo performance on “Change My Needs,” an outstanding ballad that gave the young singer the opportunity to carry a song on her own. And she did so flawlessly, with the stage presence and the ability of a seasoned performer. More familiar versions of the band’s latest single “Heart on Fire” and “Beauty’s Running Wild”, featured on Grey’s Anatomy and CSI: New York respectively, paced a mostly rocking set, as the band quickly weaved in and out of their short songs at an effective pace.

After watching the first portion of the set, it bcame clear that solely listening to the band’s studio recordings simply didn’t do them justice. Scars on 45 is a band best built to be showcased in person. Much more rock than pop in this live setting, Bemrose and Driver shared a cinematic quality each time they held a microphone, while the remaining bandmembers energetically pounded on their instruments with a furious vigor best described by an uninhibited passion for performing live and the simple enjoyment of having fun up there. As they jelled cohesively, fellow audience members turned to each other repeatedly with like minded head nods. While their original songs provided enough delicious food for our collective ears, the band also ripped into an acoustic cover of Rihanna’s “We Found Love,” immediately making it their own. It was a fun little tongue in cheek nod to their love of all things pop and served as a nice segueway to the conclusion of their set. Once the final chords of “Give Me Something” had officially closed out the band’s early evening performance, the rousing ovation from the audience had confirmed what we’d experienced throughout the evening: this band of Brits is destined for stardom. And we were fortunate enough to get a glimpse of their talents before they got there.

Scars on 45 is currently slated to tour in support of The Fray in the coming weeks, but the show at Joe’s Pub on Tuesday left us anxious for a return visit to play a bigger room. Before the show, sat down with the members of Scars on 45 for an exclusive video interview. Stay tuned to this week as we discuss the band’s new album, their influences, playing in Manhattan, and much more. Coming soon, and only on!

- Jay Rubin

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