City: New York Venue: Mercury Lounge Date: 2003-09-23
Photo credit: Charles Thompson
S E T L I S T
Strawberry Song Skimming Be Your Man Monday Morning God Daylight Springtime Someday Free Grace Happy
At the launch party for his new CD Skimming, Mike Errico performed his catchy soul-pop in front of hometown New York fans and was clearly enthused to be back at his old haunt of Mercury Lounge. Introducing his usually solo self with "Hello, we're Mike Errico" to acknowledge his backing band of drummer and bassist, Errico kicked off the night with four tracks from Skimming, though some were familiar to longtime fans. "Strawberry Song", a tale of lustful longing on the kitchen floor, hit hard, with Errico's full-bodied singing in great shape from the start. Mixing the lyrics "All my life, I've been waiting for her to come at me like that" with his sly grins, and Errico was already ahead of the game.
Next up was the title track "Skimming", where Errico's heavy-acousto guitar-playing really shined. All in all, his guitar-playing was excellent, as he deftly fingered all over the fretboard, while creating sonic reverberations with his booming vocal dynamics and intonations. Backed by bassist John and drummer Jonathan, Errico has broadened his once-spare sound to create his own brand of heartfelt music.
After a rockin' "Be Your Man" ("smack my ass and I'm good to go"), which sounds like Lenny Kravitz meets Ed Fingerling via Jamiroquai, Errico really shined on the set highlight "Monday Morning", with its terrific couplet "Lee Harvey Oswald on the ceiling, the patron saint of those who act alone." This slower song brings Errico's formidable talents to the fore -- a lilting melody, simple strumming, a bit of late Beatle sonic weirdness, and a gorgeous chord hook in the chorus to make all the ladies (and a lad or two) swoon.
Mid-set, Errico dipped into his song catalogue, highlighting a few tracks from his 2002 live CD Tonight I Drink You All, including "God", "Springtime" (with lovely touches of harmonica and guitar-tapping), and a jazzy, vampy "Someday" played solo on a cool African percussion instrument. The set built to a strong finish with Errico's great guitar-playing on "Free", and splendidly ripping vocals on "Grace", a song that lyrically turns some kind of hate back into some groovy kind of love.
Following that set closer, rapturous applause ensued, calling Errico and the band back to the stage for his encore song and fan favorite "Happy", also from Tonight I Drink You All. "Happy" is just that -- a sweet, simple ode to New York, with all its attendant joys and frustrations rolled into one.
Errico is touring colleges and halls for most of October, returning to play Arlene Grocery for the CMJ fest in New York near month's end. Try to see him. He absolutely gives his all onstage, his musical and vocal strengths are in class and accounted for, and with divine intervention (and some of Velour Recordings' marketing budget), Mike Errico will become as familiar to alt-folk-soul-pop fans as Dave Matthews.
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