By: Derek Jung
I'm not going to beat around the bush here. I wasn't looking forward to writing this review. After giving their new self-titled record one of our worst ratings of the year so far, I was hoping and praying that hearing the new album live would reinvigorate my love for the band, one that I saw bring down the house in Columbus, Ohio while touring on their debut Pickin' Up The Pieces. Alas, what I saw this time around was a tour fatigued band with little remaining passion. Quite frankly I've never seen a performance more worthy of the description "going through the motions" in recent memory.
Michael Fitzpatrick aka "Fitz" was the worst culprit of them all. His fist pumps were the least enthusiastic that I've ever seen, almost laughable in that it made their already corny choreography look even cornier. He even became grumpy and visibly detached when the crowd magically didn't automatically eat out of the palm of his hands. In fact, by the looks of it, hardly anyone in the crowd participated in the hand clapping, dancing, twirling, etc. that the band urged them to do. So we have a chicken or egg scenario here. Was the band less enthusiastic because the crowd was boring or was the crowd boring because the band wasn't enthusiastic? Having been there, I'd go with the latter. Even saxophonist James King's fantastic performance could not bring the comatose crowd back to life. Shout out to him for the obligatory "WKRP in Cincinnati" theme cover during his solo. Only people over 40 or those that have heard the cover before got the reference. There weren't many of us there. Noelle was a charmer as always despite her noticeable vocal issues. Her voice went out a few times when talking to the crowd in between songs. Props to her for being a trooper. I appreciated it.
With the exception of "Roll Up", the songs from the new album were nearly as bad live as they were on the album. Even "Complicated" was surprisingly worse than it was on the album. I didn't realize that was even possible. I will admit that the highlights from More Than Just A Dream and Pickin' Up The Pieces were well done despite the lackluster energy, but it was too little too late on a show that lacked everything that made me fall in love with the band back in 2011. They are merely the shell of what they used to be, and this performance did nothing to change my opinion on the matter.
Let's be real here. Michael Fitzpatrick is 46 years old. Not exactly the age you want to be when your band finally starts breaking out. Ever since More Than Just A Dream dropped, I've always wondered if his plan was to milk as much as he could out of the act before he hangs it up. Not many artists can sustain the same level of popularity, and especially singing power, beyond the age of 50, so I can't help but think that he saw the writing on the wall and took the path of least resistance in becoming a pop rock star. Write the most commercial sounding songs possible, get on Ellen, (twice), be in commercials (1,2,3,4,5, etc.), tv spots, and anything that can possibly use their song, and more or less sell their souls for the big paycheck. This is without even mentioning that he and wife Kaylee DeFer had their first child in 2013, the year their pop breakout More Than Just A Dream was released. Having the future college tuition payment blues, Michael? This is obviously just speculation, but to me he's never had the heart for the newer pop songs like he did for those on Pickin' Up The Pieces. If they had pop stardom as the goal the whole time, well, congratulations, but you've lost a fan in me.
Watch a performance of "Roll Up" below.
Who are we?
Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary (debatable) guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here: