Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey – McCabe’s (Santa Monica, CA)
“It’s really him, It’s really me/We’re all together for the world to see/Up here on stage were we ought to be.” So sang Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey in their opening number. There wasn’t a better tune to begin the first full-length concert in over a decade by the two former dB’s leaders. The song, an old Holsapple solo tune titled “Here And Now”, playfully yet accurately acknowledged the special nature of the evening’s show.
Stamey, only slightly grayer than in his dB’s days, and Holsapple, looking radically different with a shaved head, performed songs from their 1991 reunion album Mavericks, their own solo discs, and, of course, the dB’s catalog. Sitting onstage with acoustic guitars, they quickly slipped into a warm repartee, joking over what song counted as whose.
Their playing meshed impressively, especially considering that their only recent duo performance was a short set at an Alejandro Escovedo benefit in Raleigh, North Carolina; and, as Stamey remarked, they spent the day before this show sharing new songs instead of rehearsing old ones.
The acoustic setting allowed them to showcase not only their gift for writing wonderfully smart pop songs but also their vocal harmonies. Although their voices have grown deeper and a bit rougher than in their younger days, they still blend marvelously. This was particularly evident on the lovely “Take Me For Granted”, which suggested an Everly Brothers influence that was later made explicit when they covered “Let It Be Me” during their encore.
Their dB’s selections (“Big Brown Eyes”, “Moving In Your Sleep”, “Nothing Is Wrong”, “From A Window To The Screen”) not surprisingly got the biggest response, and they translated quite well to the duo arrangement (with only “Moving” feeling a little stiff). The real revelation, however, came with the Mavericks material, which sounded much stronger in this intimate live performance than it had on record.
The two also showed off several memorable new tunes. Stamey’s “14 Shades Of Green” (from his upcoming Yep Roc disc tentatively titled Travels In The South) and the brand new “Broken Record” stood out, while Holsapple’s “World To Cry” proved he hasn’t lost his touch with bittersweet breakup songs.
After sixteen songs and a two-song encore, Stamey and Holsapple said good night, and the crowd of longtime fans (many of whom, as Holsapple noted, they have worked with in the music business) filed out of McCabe’s small back room happy to have rekindled memories of the old days, and delighted that they had new ones to take home with them.