Live At The FTC

Graham Parker & The Figgs

Graham Parker and the Rumour may not have hit the heights of their contemporaries, but Parker’s subsequent solo career has been consistently sharp and decisive. Indeed, it hasn’t been as lucrative as the 70s and the salad days of Squeezing Out Sparks. But as a craftsman attuned to writing and singing music that’s uniquely his own, Parker doesn’t owe anyone any apologies. Imaginary Television, his 20th album released in 2010, earned plenty of praise from critics and fans alike. In these times of instant gratification and 5.1 surround sound, it’s only logical he’d gather up the Figgs, a band Parker’s relied on for support since the mid 90s, and make a live performance DVD. The resulting Live At The FTC packs all the necessary ingredients into a solid 100-minute representation of Graham Parker’s formidable history, as well as his current stable of compelling songs.

Staged on FTC’s StageOne in Fairfield, Connecticut, the simple set-up with a fuzzy TV puts the emphasis on the players who comfortably slip into “Chloroform” from Parker’s 2005 album Songs Of No Consequence. Perceived as one of Parker’s angrier cries from the 90s, “Turn It Into Hate” is actually an upbeat romp, in line with his punkier songs from the 70s. That attitude extends to even Parker’s more recent songs like “It’s My Party (But I Won’t Cry)” and “Bring Me A Heart Again,” both of which add a youthful exuberance to the light-stepping, older, grayer and balder Graham Parker.

Of course, when favorites like “Local Girls,” “Mercury Poison” (an ode to the singer’s former record label) and the raggedy 1976 classic “Soul Shoes” come popping out, time is of no consequence, it’s the 70s all over again and the mostly 40-something and over crowd rise to their shaky feet for a little misguided moshing. In addition to the energy-filled performance, there’s an “interview” that features Parker talking about his upbringing, his musical roots (“the Beatles and the Stones, pretty much”), and the concept of Imaginary Television. If you missed the boat the first time because your head was stuck inside the world of Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson, Live At The FTC, which also includes a CD of the DVD’s 19 songs, will help you get acquainted with the world of Graham Parker. Veteran fans already know what to do.

~ Shawn Perry

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