Gin Blossoms November 9, 2007
By Glen Creason
The Gin Blossoms came to the Cerritos Performing Arts Center over the weekend and despite their recent vintage they rocked the house in the good old Rock and Roll way. Having cut my teeth on the early days of Bill Haley and such I have hung up my rock and roll shoes a ways back but it was invigorating to see the art still practiced by the “young” in the persons of this late twentieth century indie group. The band made their initial bones “way back” in the 1990’s, then pressed through some adversity, broke-up, re-formed and hit the road to keep the music alive. It appears that they have learned their lessons well because their set at the Center was very good indeed. The Blossoms did not fool around with costumes and choreography but blasted an hour and half of powered up pop, riding on the dual glories of guitarists Jesse Valenzuela and Scott Johnson, a woofing bass from Bill Leen, wailing vocals by Robin Wilson and some of the most energetic drumming you will ever hear from Scott Kusmirek. There was little patter, spare exposition on the songs and not much extraneous action, save a hustling stage assistant running out guitars to the twin leads. What separates this group from the re-hashers and road-warriors is that flexible, ever-changing instrumental journey they get from the very talented guys in the band.
It didn’t take long to get an understanding of the thrust of the show as the opening number “Learning the Hard Way” started at a gallop which did not decrease for most of the concert. “Until I Fall Away” continued the brisk pace and by the third song of “Follow You Down” the crowd was into it big time, excited especially by the tasty licks played by Scott Johnson and a totally blazing solo by Jesse Valenzuela during “Someday Soon.” Since they wisely eschewed an intermission the middle passage included “Found Out About You,” the savory “Long Time Gone,” spiced by an explosive harp solo by a man only called “the judge” “Competition Smile,” “Fool for the Taking” and a wild and wooly lead guitar duel on “Idiot Summer.”
“Supergirl” was just a monument to the guitar skills of Valenzuela and “Come on Hard” extended the vocal side of the equation to the second power but a finishing kick of the perfect pop hooked “Till I Hear It from You,” the obligatory but tremendously received “Hey Jealousy” and a rip-snorting “Follow You Down” sent the whole house standing faithful into Gin Blossom frenzy and demanded encores of course. In other words, the band has learned from hard-earned road experience how to get the crowd up and how to keep them up for an entire evening. Springing as they do from a post-grunge era where many a band litters the road to today, the Gin Blossoms are still playing a healthy and strong brand of rock and roll music that flows all the way from my salad days to this Cerritos present.