The Smithereens Welcomed Back To The Suffolk Theater Riverhead, NY 8-15-15

Platinum recording artists The Smithereens have been on the scene for over thirty years now, and have become one of Alternative Rock’s darlings. Formed in 1980 out in Carteret, New Jersey, they released their first full-length album in 1986, Especially For You, putting them on the map and afforded them several hits. Since then, they have released a total of ten more studio albums, appeared on a slew of soundtracks, and toured the world many times over.  Now in 2015, the three of the founding members, Pat DiNizio (vocals, guitars) Jim Babjak (guitar, vocals) and Dennis Diken (drums, vocals) are still going strong with Severo “The Thrilla” Jornacion (bass, vocals), after original member Mike Mesaros retired from the band in 2006. On the road for the entire month of August, the band returned for the second time this year to The Suffolk Theater in Riverhead, New York on Saturday the 15th. A warm and humid Summer night, many fans were drawn to a beautifully refurbished theater that was originally opened in 1933. With its period décor, it provided table seating throughout the theater and offered dinner service all through the show. The Theater was nearly full of dedicated, mature, fans. There was no demand for a supporting act as The Smithereens were ready to rock their fans out to a full night of music.

Coming out with the aforementioned band, along with keyboardist Andy Burton, they opened the night with their 1986 hit off of Especially For You,“Behind The Wall Of Sleep,” tearing right into “Top Of The Pops,” from 1991’s Blow Up, and “Sorry,” from their latest release in 2011, simply named, 2011. DiNizio took a moment to say, “Hello” to a cheering audience as “Miles From Nowhere,” from 1994’s A Date With The Smithereens, begins to play. DiNizio introduces Andy Burton playing the keyboards for them this evening. DiNizio also said that having Burton with them gives them a chance to experiment and, “There are so many songs we want to do!” An audience member yells out, “Just Do It!!” DiNizio replies, “Yes, just do it,” with a wide grin. The band kicks in with “Too Much Passion” another song off of Blow Up and rocked their way into 1974’s The Hues Corporation cover song “Rock The Boat.” “Indigo Blues,” another Blow Up song, got one man from the second tier of the Suffolk Theater up on his feet, he danced his way all the way up to the stage, singing to every word all along his way, it was obvious The Smithereens were enjoying the dance as well.

The band took to some freestyle playing as they broke into a jam with Burton, and the audience went wild. “Afternoon Tea,” from A Date With The Smithereens ,and “Only A Memory,” from 1988’s Green Thoughts, had that audience member back up dancing and singing, but this time he had some company as a lovely lady from another section of the theater came to join him. The audience, clearly enjoying the music, swaying in their seats, hands clapping in the air at the end of each song. The dancing audience members returned to their seats, however, the man had a question as he yelled out, “How are you guys doing tonight? We love you guys!” DiNizio promptly replied with a huge smile, “We love you too!” He then asked the Theater to turn up the house lights so he could see everyone in attendance. DiNizio introduced the band members as some friendly banter went back and forth on stage. Dinizio then announced that on this day, it was the 50th anniversary of the August 15, 1965 The Beatles show at Shea Stadium. Quite an interesting piece of Rock-n-Roll history, to honor it they played covers of The Beatles’ songs “Please Please Me” and “It’s Only Love”, which Dinizio sang without his guitar.

Continuing without his guitar and going back to Green Thoughts ,they played “Especially For You” with DiNizio encouraging and receiving many cheers at the end of the song. The band stops and DiNizio shares a little about his current situation at home; his 82 year old mother is now living with him and he is caring for her. He told us how she regularly asks him, “When are you going to quit the band?” To which he always replies, “I’m never going to quit!” The audience went wild! Playing “Cigarette,” from Especially For You, and then a song that The Smithereens recorded with Belinda Carlisle for 1989’s 11, “Blue Period,” DiNizio, still without his guitar, reached in his pocket to take out a red bandana to wipe his brow. He jokes about how we always seem to turn into our parents and talked a little about his Italian heritage and growing up in New Jersey. He then dedicated the next song to “old times and ones who have passed,” then they played “Since You Went Away.”

DiNizio, with guitar back on, jokes about how they will do some Bee Gees’ Saturday Night Fever cover songs, but the band plays Led Zeppelin’s “When The Levee Breaks” for a moment. They then go into “Room Without A View” from 11, which earned them the first full standing ovation of the evening. Taking the audience on a journey from releases from the 1980’s to today, they played “Now And Then,” “Even If I Never Come Back Home,” “Yesterday Girl,” “One Look At You,” and “The House We Used To Live In.” In 2009, they released an album covering The Who’s Tommy, and they jammed to the song “Sparks” off that album.

As if the audience was not thrilled enough, The Smithereens went into one of their biggest hits, “Blood and Roses,” and now the audience was all up on their feet, dancing, as well as singing. DiNizio asks the audience to leave their tables and come join him and the band up close, most of the audience took the opportunity to do so, those that did not still remained up on their feet, cheering away loudly. They closed the show with their 1989 hit “A Girl Like You,” a cover of Bad Company’s 1974 “Can’t Get Enough,” then two more The Beatles covers, “Get Back” and “Hey Jude,” where DiNizio used the opportunity to include the audience in an all out sing-along. While there was no typical encore, it was not needed. The audience had a great time and was completely satisfied.

It seems there is no stopping The Smithereens. They sounded superb, did not miss a note, and were so full of energy. They clearly enjoy what they do, and continue to do it well. Their tour marches on across the United States and goes into March of 2016. The Suffolk Theater was glad to see the band back again, and would gladly welcome them back in the future. The Smithereens return to the New York area on January 20th to play a night at the B.B. King Blues Club.

Like the in-depth, diverse coverage of Cryptic Rock? Help us in support to keep the magazine going strong for years to come with a small donation.

No comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *