To some, Blind Melon are considered a one-hit wonder — a group whose sunshiny 1993 hit, “No Rain,” represents a blip on their rock’n’roll radar. But 12 years after the overdose of singer Shannon Hoon, Blind Melon is back on the road with a new frontman and new songs to boot.
How did it happen? Big-time Melon fan Travis Warren had done some recording at a recording studio run by surviving Melon members Christopher Thorn (guitar) and Brad Smith (bass), and immediately thereafter, once the rest of the members (guitarist Rogers Stevens and drummer Glen Graham) were notified, Blind Melon was back in business.
The group has recorded a full album’s worth of new material, but opted to launch a month-long tour prior to the release of the still-untitled project. The group’s first New York appearance in more than 13 years occurred at the cozy Canal Room, and was met by a sold-out crowd.
Blind Melon’s members look pretty much the same as they did a decade ago, while both Stevens and Thorn modeled similar “Dick Tracy”-style hats. And from the first note of “Galaxie,” the crowd whooped, hollered and sang along to just about every word and note.
The layoff has not dulled the band’s chops, either. Expectedly, all eyes were on Warren to see how he would handle Hoon’s spot, but he sang the classics perfectly throughout the evening.
The crowd certainly approved also, as I’ve witnessed few shows where the audience was as intensely into the performance for such a sustained amount of time. This was especially evident on renditions of such nuggets as “2×4,” “Change” (which saw renowned photographer Danny Clinch supply harmonica, just as he did during the group’s Woodstock ’94 set), “Soup,” “Soak the Sin” and a pre-encore set closing rendition of “Time.” On the latter, Warren encouraged the audience to sing Hoon’s opening “woo-hoo-hoo” part.
There may have been a dip in the crowd electricity during some of the new songs — including such standouts as “Wishing Well” and “Make a Difference” — but that was probably attributed to the fact that these tracks have not been consumed by the masses just yet.
For the encore, the group kicked things off with a pair of songs that the original Melon lineup never performed on stage during the Hoon era: the gorgeous acoustic ballad “Mouthful of Cavities” — on which Warren dueted with a female vocalist — and a cover of Steppenwolf’s “The Pusher.” Closing the set was — take a guess — “No Rain,” which saw a pair of hardcore fans hop up on stage and sing almost the entire song with Warren.
Here is Blind Melon’s set list:
“Toes Across the Floor”
“For My Friends”
“Make a Difference”
“Soak the Sin”
“Right Set of Eyes”
“Mouthful of Cavities”