Peter Case and Paul Collins Rhythm Room Tuesday, March 13
"I'm playing on the streets everyday...I lose my voice, get sunburned, my fingers bleed, and I never make much more than a few dollars change, but I just keep singing and playing and learning new songs." -- Peter Case, As Far as You Can Get Without a Passport, 2006
Peter Case and Paul Collins aren't famous -- not like rock royalty famous, at least. They aren't on the cover of Rolling Stone, they aren't headlining a week's worth of triumphant gigs on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. They aren't rich, either -- despite a couple of solid radio hits from the '80s.
No, Collins and Case, founders of The Nerves and Breakaways, The Beat and Plimsouls apart, are old dudes "doing it because they can." And last night, to about a hundred or so folks, they were a rock 'n' roll flash of chiming guitars, pure pop for now people vocals, and unbridled teenage enthusiasm.
"We're making $25," joked Collins, decked out in a bomber jacket, hat, and sunglasses while setting up. "So there's no rush."
The band certainly played like there was. Tearing through Beat, Plimsouls, and Breakaways cuts like the pub-rocking "Little Suzy," the duo didn't sound out of touch or well into their golden years. The feat was no doubt assisted by a younger drummer and bassist, who gleefully bashed the simple runs of The Easybeats' "Women" while Collins and Case sang and soloed.
"The Gin Blossoms used to play this one," Case said before singing "Now," a track from The Plimsouls' 1981 self-titled LP. "Did they ever play here? No? Fuck 'em."
"No, man, that was the Go-Gos," Collins said.
"The Gin Blossoms used to go see us at Bronco Billy's," Case said. "Man, that place was a fucking dump."
Jokes aside, the duo's contributions to the underselling, overly melodic sound called power pop are undeniable. Collin's "Rock 'n' Roll Girl" and Case's "A Million Miles Away," both hits for their respective post-Nerves bands sounded immediate and fresh, and as one friend astutely pointed out post-show, "If you just close your eyes, you can imagine you're right back there."
And for those of us a little too young to have been there the first time around? Judging by last night's performance seems like we picked as good a time as any to show up.
"How Long Will it Take" "Don't Wait Up For Me" "Great Big World" "Little Suzy" "House on the Hill" "Work-a-Day World" "Women" "I Don't Fit In" ""Oldest Story in the World" "Zero Hour" "Give Me Some Time" "Working Too Hard" "When You Find Out" "Let Me Into Your Life" "Now" "Rock 'n' Roll Girl" "Million Miles Away" "All Across the USA" "Hanging on the Telephone"
"Many Roads to Follow" "One Way Ticket" "Paper Dolls" "Walking Out on Love"
Last Night: Paul Collins and Peter Case (with band) at Rhythm Room
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The Crowd: Rock 'n' roll youths and not-so-youngs out on a Tuesday night, and all the power pop nuts I know.
Opening Act: Summer Twins sounded good, but a little more relaxed then I was expecting.
Personal Bias: I can't think of a show I've been more excited about all year.