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Concert Reviews:
Polyphonic Spree smaller, but still mighty

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Friday, May 18, 2012

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DETROIT -- Polyphonic Spree remains the not-so-little band that could -- and did on Thursday night, May 17, at Saint Andrews Hall, even if both the band and crowds are getting smaller.

Economic realities of taking a 20-plus member band on the road have clearly impacted on founder and former Tripping Daisy frontman Tim DeLaughter and company; the version of the Dallas chorale rock ensemble that showed up in Detroit on Thursday was a comparatively modest 14 people, the same size as Bob Seger's latest Silver Bullet Band. With only about 200 people through the door, the downsizing could only be deemed prudent.

But that hardly diminished the power of the Spree's performance, a 100-minute burst of joyous, spirit-lifting exultation extolling the virtues of love, kindness, following the light and reaching for the sun -- a little hippy dippy, to be sure, but delivered with such sincerity and gleeful, over-the-top bombast that it's impossible not to be swept up in the troupe's positive exuberance.

Clad in white robes with hearts on their chests, the Spree emerged from behind a short red curtain -- from which DeLaughter cut out a swatch of heart-shaped fabric -- with a buoyant rendition of "I'm Calling," while an explosion of confetti introduced "Two Thousand Places." The group played the two new songs its distributed via the Internet, "Bullseye" and "What Would You Do?," but mostly concentrated on favorites from its three albums as well as medley from the Who's rock opera "Tommy" of "See Me, Feel Me/Listening to You" and "Pinball Wizard." The bouncy, full-bodied pop of "Hold Me Now" segued well into the wall-of-sound build of "Light to Follow," while "Everything Starts at the Seam" slid smoothly into the intricate "When the Fool Becomes a King" suite.

Thursday's encore, meanwhile, packed in as much energy as some other bands' entire shows with the familiar "Light & Day/Reach For the Sun" pairing, a soaring "We Sound Amazed" and a meditative "It's the Sun" before finishing with "The Championship," a charged, anthemic rocker during which the group members left the stage in pairs until just DeLaughter and the crowd -- making up in emotion what it lacked in size -- were left, singing the song's refrain together.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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