Flight To Mars - The Constellation Room - 5/14/12
Generally, opening nights of tours are when the small kinks that audiences don't notice are worked out. It could be the sound is off or that the band is a bit rusty after having not been on-stage in a while. Flight To Mars had a built-in excuse on top of whatever opening problems could have occurred: this was their first ever performance outside of their native Seattle. As we highlighted in our feature last week, the Mike McCready-led band has been playing one-off shows in the Emerald City for the past nine years in order to raise money for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. In honor of their 10th year performing, the group decided to take the show on the road.
Naturally there were some spotty moments, but all in all, Flight To Mars kicked some serious ass. Throughout their 75-minute set of UFO covers, McCready treated the nearly- packed room to the same energetic and excitable solos that he's been known to do in much larger venues, providing a treat to the diehard Pearl Jam fans in attendance. I'm not sure if they noticed, but the solo in "Rock Bottom" felt eerily similar to the one in "Porch," which shows that if you dig deep enough into a rocker's roots, you could find hidden gems in unexpected places.
While McCready was his usual kickass self, the rest of the band was more than up to the task of keeping up with their famous guitar player. Singer Paul Passereli may not look like the consummate frontman, but he can sure as hell wail on these songs and Phil Mogg would have been very proud. Tim DiJulio complimented McCready extremely well on the guitar while keyboardist Ty Bailie filled out the sound extremely well with his Wakefieldian styled synths.
Unlike any other all-star tribute band you're going to see on tour, the cause that united these musicians in the first place is what helped lighten the mood. Before the band's set, there was a raffle where fans could win an assortment of goodies, ranging from Angels tickets to signed drumsticks to my personal favorite, an autographed McCready bobblehead.
Most of the crowd were in good spirits and knew what they were getting. Sometimes at tribute shows, you get the few obnoxious fans that hope that the band will play a song from one of the members' main outfit, but that wasn't the case tonight. The crowd was well behaved and appreciated what they witnessed instead of clamoring for something that was irrelevant to this particular band.
Of all the tribute band shows I've seen in the past (believe it or not there's been quite a few), none possessed the charm and ability to rock hard like these guys did. It was hard to believe that the band had played only nine shows before last night. They acted like the experienced pros they are and if you're in one of the remaining cities left on this brief tour, you'd be best served to check out Flight To Mars because you'll be hard to pressed to find a better or fun live show that not only does justice to the original band, but will make for an enjoyable evening of music that brings the intensity of a classic '70s rock show.