To anyone who treasures Old School and Starsky & Hutch as much as I do, they will know that some of the biggest laughs came from a certain band-for-hire, illuminating a wedding and bat-mitzvah in each film respectively. In Old School, the laughter came from the shock of watching a slightly zaftig wedding singer not only belt out “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, but also add his own emphatic cursing to the mix. And with Starsky & Hutch it was the hilarious horror of hearing “Feel Like Makin’ Love” performed in earnest to a crowd of tween girls.
As it turns out, that rotund singer-for-hire is none other than Dan Finnerty. The mastermind behind his self-titled band began his singing career behind the microphone at a karaoke bar, giving his all to Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman”. Now, for most of us, the drunken warbling in a smoky bar or the unabashed performances of “Macarthur Park” in the shower are relegated to humorous regret. For Finnerty, however, it provided the inspiration to put together a four-piece band, and two back up singers, and bring his unique take on pop songs usually performed by women to the public. To everyone’s surprise, he was a hit, leading to sell out shows in Los Angeles, with word of mouth giving him a shot to present his routine on the silver screen, even if only for twenty seconds.
Of course, to keep the momentum going on Finnerty’s ever-stretching fifteen minutes of fame, a disc of his live performance was issued. The appropriately titled The Dan Band Live features twelve songs recorded at the Hollywood Avalon and two bonus studio cuts. You ever tell a joke only to realize that the person you’re telling it to doesn’t get it, and you end up saying, “Well, I guess you had to be there?”. Unfortunately, the exact same thing can be said for The Dan Band Live.
Certainly, Finnerty has aligned himself with a tight band and great backing singers. Their performances deviate very little musically from the original compositions, keeping the arrangements largely intact. Nor does Finnerty mess with the lyrics except to throw in the occasional curse word into the mix. But despite the audience’s thunderous applause and chuckling seal of approval, The Dan Band Live is decidedly unfunny. By removing the context of a wedding or bat mitzvah, Finnerty’s show relies solely on the humor of watching a man who isn’t Christina Aguilera or Alanis Morrissette or Mary J. Blige sing their songs. After hearing the disc, I’m frankly baffled that Finnerty has achieved the level of fame that he has. I’m mean, sure, hearing Finnerty sing “Luka” is kind of funny, but do I really need forty minutes worth of it?
Judging by the photos inside the CD booklet, I am missing the synchronized dance moves and Finnerty’s facial expressions, which probably enhance the funny factor. And I’m pretty sure that if Finnerty played in my town, I’d throw down $20, grab a bunch of friends and go check it out. In a communal, drunken setting, I bet Finnerty is a blast. But then again, I could save the $20 and we could also just go to a karaoke bar instead for the same effect. While I’m sure the costs of securing the rights prevented a DVD from being made of the Dan Band’s show, the CD is simply no substitute for the presence Finnerty clearly commands on stage and screen. To anyone remotely thinking about buying this disc, pick up the Old School DVD instead—you’ll even get a naked, streaking Will Ferrell thrown in for good measure.
// Notes from the Road
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