Not All the Band They Weren't

the Grapes The Grapes of Wrath
with Jungle
The Starfish Room
Vancouver, B.C.
Saturday, March 21, 1998

Review by Darren Gawle
Grapes photography by Jeff Hornby

Near the end of the show, after you've re-visited the sound of your high-school or junior college days courtesy of "You May Be Right" or "Peace of Mind," you realize that there are no new songs on the setlist tonight. No reason to believe that the Grapes of Wrath are back together for any reason other than one more chance to play the old tunes one last time without having to ask anyone's permission (or, perhaps, a chance for Tom Hooper and Kevin Kane to see if they can stand being in the same room as each other for more than forty-five minutes.)

Kevin Kane I must confess, I never really did like the Grapes of Wrath the first time around -- I suppose there was just too much testosterone flowing through my eighteen-year-old body to let me appreciate the folk-rock nuances of Treehouse. I mean, they sure didn't rock like, well, the Pursuit of Happiness did, and by the time I sat up and said "Hey, that's a rather good cover of 'Let Me Roll It,' actually," it was too late. But, as we've been swamped in an ever-swelling tide of neo-glam metal shite over the past few years, I've come to miss the Grapes. Tonight is the night I atone for my past ignorance, and the discipline is to be administered by Jungle.

Any hope that Jungle might have something -- anything -- to do with drum 'n bass is dashed as we realize that Jungle is the newest abomination from Lucifer's own sphincter. Why oh why do we need a band that spouts cock-rock aphorisms like "the only crime in this world, Vancouver, is a crime against luuuuve!!!" and sounds almost exactly like Trooper? Oh wait, I get it -- they're playing an elaborate, ironic joke just like Strapping Young Lad (oh, please say you're playing an elaborate, ironic joke just like Strapping Young Lad, please...). Surrey would love this stuff. Enough said.

Tom Hooper After a genteel pause that lets me reflect on how I'm now embarrassed at even being in the same building as Jungle, the Grapes of Wrath are upon us... well, half of them anyhow. Back to a three-piece format, the Grapes have lost drummer Chris Hooper and keyboardist Vincent Jones, which of course necessitates a change in Pink Floyd covers. A foreshortened "Lucifer Sam" (no organ solo, see...) has replaced "See Emily Play," and, as I was too young and stupid to see the Grapes the first time around, I can't tell you if it's an improvement.

Never mind that, the core of Tom and Kevin are here and so are most of the hits. "Backward Town" and "Do You Want to Tell Me?" are naturally trotted out to the audience's appreciation, with the biggest applause going to "All the Things I Wasn't" and a loose rendition of "I Am Here". Loose? Oh, lordy -- it's almost a trip back in time to see a very early Grapes of Wrath show, that's how rusty things are sounding up there.

Kevin Kane Of course, Kevin hasn't lost any of the infamous attitude that's probably keeping Chris away from the reunion. He stabs away at his Rickenbacker and Gibsons with a perpetual sneer, leaving most of the talking to Tom and his ever-flaky homilies like "Oh thanks, you're too kind to us old-timers..." But even without "O Lucky Man" on deck, the show's still an event. The Grapes' rustiness only adds a touch of humanity that keeps Kevin's evident contempt in check, and most of the thirtysomethings in the audience are too busy with their trip down amnesia lane to care.

It's a cliché, I know, but it took a few years without the Grapes of Wrath around for me too realize that I missed them. And though it may not be in the cards to have a new Grapes Of Wrath album out any time soon, hearing "Do You Want to Tell Me?" again has put me face to face with my own mortality (at twenty-seven, no less...), and maybe we will need the Grapes around again to see us through our approaching Golden Years.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on April 11, 1998

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