Music

Bruce Sudano and the Candyman Band: 2 May 2014 - New York

Holding court at the Bitter End, Bruce Sudano celebrated his NYC homecoming with new songs and an eye towards the future.

Bruce Sudano and the Candyman Band
City: New York
Venue: The Bitter End
Date: 2014-05-02

"This is your one beautiful life. You don’t get the chance to go around twice." Those words belong to "One Beautiful Life", the opening song of Bruce Sudano & the Candyman Band's show at the Bitter End. In a way, Sudano is the exception to his own lyrics. As an artist, he's lived many lives, from a member of New York-based Alive 'n' Kickin' to one-third of Brooklyn Dreams to a singer-songwriter that's steeped his compositions in west coast pop/rock, country, adult contemporary and, most recently, a becoming fusion of rock, blues and jazz. It's the latter style that dominated Sudano's first New York solo appearance in decades. It's also the style that, based on the Bitter End show, is guaranteed to prompt a thundering ovation or two.

Playing to a packed house, Sudano and his band commenced the eight-song set with a smokey, blues-driven jam. Colin Kupka's sax lent a distinctive noir quality to the proceedings, summoning a midnight stroll along rain-soaked city streets. Rounded out by Randy Ray Mitchell on guitar, Dave Sutton on bass, Eric Eldenius on drums and Kupka on both sax and keys, Sudano's band segued into "One Beautiful Life" and anchored the remainder of the set with a flawless, engaging musicality.

"These Shoes" and "Alone" showcased the more introspective side of Sudano's lyrics. "These shoes are right and tight / These shoes are telling their own story with every step they’re taking", he sang on the former. He imbued "Why's it going here, why's it going there" with fiery, guttural vocal textures. Lyrically and musically, "Alone" conjured a solemn but gripping tone. "Life is hard, nights are long, no one should be alone," he sang. Coupled with Kupka's haunting sax solo, Sudano's performance played like an anguished interior monologue set to music.

"To balance that, this next song is the happiest song I ever wrote," Sudano quipped after the closing strains of "Alone". "There are three modulations — I never write modulations — and it’s in a major key." Sudano and his bandmates then launched into "It’s Never Too Late to Dream". The song's reggae-inspired groove brought an appealing rhythmic buoyancy to the evening. "They got no right, why even listen / Let no man put a chain around your mind", Sudano sang. Indeed, each modulation conveyed a growing sense of positivity and perseverance even in the face of doubt.

Sudano revisited his third solo album, Life and the Romantic (2009), on "A Glass of Red and the Sunset". He tagged a spoken-word prelude to the song, which amplified the sentiment of the lyrics. "We all got so much to be grateful for," he said. "There’s that big sun in the sky and we’re missing all the joy." The music then paused to dramatic effect and Sudano sang the opening lines: "What's the point of all the madness, non-stop-till-you-drop life / Top of the mountain, king of the hill. Proving yourself to no one." True to the album version, "A Glass of Red and the Sunset" melded musical sultriness and contemplative lyrics. With the Candyman Band in tow, Sudano's live rendition easily equaled the magnetism of the song's studio counterpart.

The most familiar tune of the set was followed by a brand new song. "We’re doing a song we’ve never done," Sudano warned. "We've only rehearsed it a few times." Perhaps it was the excitement of uncharted territory but the band was particularly energized on "Why Aren't You Here" and furnished one of the highlights of the evening. Adrenaline seemed to flow through Sudano's body and into the fret of his guitar as he rocked and swayed behind the microphone. He slowed the song down at the bridge — "Why aren’t you here for coffee in the morning when the world outside is calling" — before resuming the song's rollicking energy.

A pair of tracks from Sudano's latest album, With Angels on a Carousel (2013), closed the set. "Things Are Changing" fired on all cylinders, as each band member supplied some extra bite. Commenting on the constant, fast-paced pulse of the 21st century, where attention spans are seemingly measured in milliseconds, Sudano wryly notes, "Even Warhol, well he got it wrong / Turns out 15 minutes is much too long". Bringing the Bitter End to a hush, Sudano concluded with "Beautiful History". On both record and in concert, the song's a personal and poignant tribute that honors Sudano's 32-year marriage to Donna Summer, who passed away in 2012.

Certainly, Bruce Sudano's catalog as a songwriter and solo artist is deep enough to warrant an even longer show. However, his appearance at the Bitter End emphasized where he's going rather than where he's been. The ardent response from the audience left no doubt that Sudano's listeners will be along for the journey, wherever he may venture next.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image