Chris Caffery (Trans-Siberian Orchestra & Savatage fame) would deliver an “Almost Acoustic” early evening set of music with some friends of his at the Flushing Queens Library Theatre, in Flushing Queens. The show was a mix of the guitarist’s originals, Savatage classics and a couple of interesting covers. This was the second show in a twenty four hour time frame for me which began with Stryper the evening before. My goal was to accomplish three interesting events and should you want to learn about this one just scroll on down.
Artist: Chris Caffery
Venue: Flushing Library (Flushing, NY)
Label: Independant Artist
The week was most certainly an interesting one and what began with a rousing Power Metal affair held by Stratovarius and Pagan’s mind just this past Wednesday continued into the Friday appearance of Christian Metal experts Stryper. This was truly a great way to hit the musical weekend and when I learned that an early Saturday gig would be happening from Trans-Siberian Orchestra & Savatage’s own Chris Caffery, I knew I had to see what was going on. The interesting thing was that this show would take place all the way out in Flushing, Queens and not be in a club at all, but instead in the theatre that is located within the Flushing Queens Library down on Main Street. It’s a very unlikely place for a Rock Show but Chris did play there last year and later in the day I would find out that Spread Eagle’s Ray West had done a set of his material there as well not long after. The show would find Chris with a full band and he would essentially turn it down just a bit and make it an “almost acoustic” event. Here is what transpired as I continued to do my music adventuring and attempt to hit three gigs in a twenty four hour time frame.
For the show the band remained seated and Chris joked about how at his gig the night before out in New Jersey, that some of his water was replaced with vodka. He spoke casually to the crowd like they were all old friends and at a quick glance it seemed as though the appearance had drawn in not only the musicians own fan base but also a healthy amount of the curious. He was joined by Mark Sly on second guitar and Brian Gregory on bass while Mark Scott played drums. Scott and Chris are friends from upstate and know each other from bands long past and Mark was actually the drummer for the band Trixter who were an MTV staple back when the network regularly showed those kinds of videos. Having been more of a Slayer and Megadeth supporter around this time, I was not much of a fan of their sound but I was totally happy to see him back in action and working with Caffery in this project. The show began with a mellow introduction that sounded like something done with the bombastic Trans-Siberian Orchestra and I had to say that it was interesting hearing something so “big” being done in such an understated manner. He would continue into the song “Music Man” which comes from his solo debut “Faces” and during the song would introduce the audience to young Jeff Teets, a local musician who was playing keyboards when needed for this gig but also who works as lead guitarist in a Metal band with his sister Sara called Necromance. Chris would speak to the audience often this evening and was pretty locked into the fact that it was “Talk Like A Pirate” day and continued to use the standard “Arrrrrr” that we find those scallywags saying in their Hollywood depictions. I felt he leaned on this particular joke a bit much but the larger populace of the crowd seemed to enjoy it so that is cool.
Caffery continued the presentation of more “Faces” music done acoustically by playing “Life Crazy Life” and “Bag Of Bones” and while many might have wondered why this was the case with his most recent, and fourth CD being available, he maintained how he felt that the songs on “Faces” worked really well in the acoustic sense. Hey Chris, perhaps this should be album number five – Acoustic renditions of your best stuff from the whole batch of solo albums. It might just work. He asked the crowd who might have a copy of the Doctor Butcher CD and many raised their hands before he launched into the song “Bridges”. He then would take a breather from singing and let bassist Gregory handle one of the cover songs that they play in a group they call Cammo-Toe. Brian would sing the Doobie Brothers classic “China Grove” and then it was Mark Sly’s turn who gave us Bad Company’s “Can’t Get Enough (Of Your Love)” and did his best Paul Rodger’s. Mark the drummer would not sing, nor would Jeff, but they did provide some additional backing vocals when they were required. He kept on with the pirate talking and at one point noticed me standing and shooting photos and chuckled as he singled me out as being “Ken Pierce on Lead Camera tonight”. Working within the joke I did a quick mime lead on my extended zoom lens. Caffery would ask how many people knew him from the band Savatage and a lot of folks screamed “yes” for that, and then under his breath he said “it’s not my fault, so I’m sorry”. He apparently knows the reason and the person who is holding the process back on anything with the classic band but he is not talking about it any further. Perhaps we will all learn the reasoning when the guitarist ever publishes his memoirs, but until then the answers are left to internet blogs and forum boards as opposed to being concrete fact. Believe what you will, but I will remain hopeful that something, anything happens before it no longer matters. Chris would deliver “Summer’s Rain” from the Gutter Ballet” CD and this went over well as would its follow up which came from “Streets – A Rock Opera” (which he described by making “quotes” with his fingers as he said it”. The song was “Believe” and folks who had seen the TSO last year were treated to a very powerful rendition of the tune, and this was because it will be featured on the orchestra’s new CD “Nightcastle”. A release that is finally going to come out in about a month’s time by my calendar, and this writing. I was at that TSO show last year when the song was played and had a feeling that they were warming us up for its continued use going forward. The set list said that “Saddamize” from his solo work was going to be up next, but the guitarist would switch things up “because he could” and instead they called upon young Teets to keep the keyboards going and do “Edge Of Thorns”, the title track of the Savatage album that bares the same name. To be brutally honest, I preferred that he did another ‘Tage tune instead of “Saddamize” because I was not sure how that song would have worked out in this setting. The closing tune would be another solo track and one from Chris’ latest “House Of Insanity”. He said the title is easily understood by anyone who ever lived in his world for five minutes and this was perhaps the heaviest and fastest number of the night.
All in all there appeared to be a couple of hundred people in attendance and yes that is impressive even thought the performance was free to the public. I didn’t see anyone leaving and will assume that this meant that they enjoyed themselves. I could have done without the cover tunes and felt that while it was nice to give his band some equal time that they should have stuck with either his own originals or more Savatage numbers. After the show, Caffery would be available at the merchandise table that was set up for him to sell and sign CD’s and posters as well as let folks that might have wanted to take a photo with him get the chance to do so. I liked the overall feel of this performance and hope that he does another one in the future and that the organizers get some other rockers in place to let them do their own thing.
Now it was time for me to check out the Progressive Melodic Death Metal of the band Gwynbleidd who were going to be playing a set over at the Ace Of Clubs in NYC in about an hour. Two shows down with one more to go. I might just meet my goal and manage to enjoy all three in the space of one day’s time.
1. TSO X-Mas Eve Intro
2. Music Man
3. Life, Crazy Life
4. Bag Of Bones
5. Bridges (Doctor Butcher)
6. China Grove (Doobie Brothers)
7. Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love (Bad Company)
8. Summers Rain (Savatage)
9. Believe (Savatage)
10. Edge Of Thorns (Savatage)
11. Season’s Change
Official Website: http://www.chriscaffery.com