And Suddenly They Return: The Left Banke

May 6th, 2012 by The Professor

The Left Banke generate a storm on stage

by Radio RockonTour host Timothy Tilghman

The Left Banke has a new lease on live appearances. Formed originally in New York City by a handful of young musicians that found themselves seeking similar musical endeavors, Michael Brown, George Cameron, Tom Finn, and Steve Martin joined forces together in a studio and established a unique sound for their fledgling group. Unfortunately with no interest expressed by record labels, the lads abandoned their quest for a recording contract.

As luck would bless them, the initial success of the group was launched on the strength of their debut 1966 single “Walk Away Renee”, which was completed in the studio after their dissolution. As “Renee” began to climb the hit parade, the lads regrouped to head out on tour. Consequently, internal issues arose and the band splintered before reaching their anticipated potential as recording artists.

Reunite, and they will come. Baby-boomers thrive on nostalgia from their collective youth. It is therefore a pleasant surprise that The Left Banke are touring once again. Original members Tom Finn and George Cameron now lead a small ensemble of talented support musicians that honor the traditional sound of The Left Banke. Mike Fornatale handled lead vocals and guitar, Paul Alves guitar, Charly Cazalet bass, Micky Finn keyboards, and Rick Reil was on drums. A string section showcased Carrie Bartsch on violin, Ben Larson on cello, and John Spurney on keys.

The Left Banke delivered a lengthy set at the Robert Parilla Performing Arts Center in Rockville, Maryland, on the Sesquicentennial anniversary of Cinco de Mayo. Playing an extensive battery of material from their catalog, the songs continued to flow one after another. Staging these classic recordings live gave them all a new edge and sincere vibrancy that enhanced the overall performance.

It is thoroughly enjoyable to see a band live that you thought you would never see live in concert. A good deal of the songs were anchored by soaring harmonies and augmented by strings to embellish the material. Of course, the major climax came at the end of the show with the timeless ballad “Walk Away Renee”. The haunting melody still demands attention almost a half century after its original chart success.

Ending on an incredibly important moment, The Left Banke introduced a new song as their singular encore. “City Life” rocked Rockville as the touring entourage turned in a fierce stage rendition hinting where The Left Banke’s new direction may be headed as Finn anticipates recording a new studio album soon.

The Left Banke, Robert Parilla Performing Arts Center, Rockville, MD, May 5, 2012 setlist: She May Call You Up Tonight * I’ve Got Something On My Mind * Pretty Ballerina * Dark Is The Bark * Barterers And Their Wives * Goodbye Holly * Let Go Of You Girl * Heartbreaker * Sing Little Bird Sing * Nice To See You * My Friend Today * Shadows Breaking Over My Head * I Can Fly * Love Songs In The Night * Lazy Day * Bryant Hotel * Two By Tow * Evening Gown * I Haven’t Got The Nerve * There’s Gonna Be A Storm * Desiree * Walk Away Renee * Encore: City Life

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