The Verve Pipe Thrill Fairfield, CT 1-17-18 w/ Peter DiStefano

There are not many bands who can still keep the creative ball rolling for over 25 years, but The Verve Pipe refuse to be stopped. Amidst their early 2018 touring schedule, on a wintry Wednesday, January 17th, the band brought their show to Fairfield, Connecticut’s FTC Theatre for an intimate, exciting night of music that spanned multiple decades, snow and ice be damned. The fifth stop on the month long run, to help them warm up the crowd -in more ways than one -The Verve Pipe brought along Singer-Songwriter Peter DiStefano to kick things off.

First and foremost, Peter DiStefano has quite a storied past, some of which he would graciously share with those in attendance at FTC. Fans may know him best for his work in the Alternative Rock band Porno for Pyros, which came together in the ashes of Jane’s Addiction’s first break-up. However, he has had a myriad of musical projects including projects with Bauhaus Vocalist Peter Murphy and the late Stone Temple Pilots Vocalist Scott Weiland. In the early ‘90s, DiStefano served as the Porno for Pyros guitarist alongside Vocalist Perry Farrell and Drummer Steven Perkins, releasing two studio albums before calling it quits in 1997.

Following that, DiStefano took part in an impressive multitude of musical projects, including some solo and self-released work. He seemed excited to show off a taste of all of his projects with the growing crowd. Taking the stage with just an acoustic guitar, a loop pedal, and some turntables on an iPad, DiStefano began his set with a few offerings from Porno for Pyros including “Pets” and “Tahitian Moon,” two of the band’s most well-known tracks. Since FTC was such an intimate and welcoming setting, DiStefano shared the story behind “Tahitian Moon,” saying that he and the band would travel to tropical destinations like Tahiti in an attempt to kick their heroin habits. He got a huge cheer from the crowd after saying that he was now twenty years sober.

DiStefano kept the momentum going by introducing the audience to some of his solo and self-released work including “Hypocrisies” from his 2004 album Gratitude. The audience seemed to be responding to the energy he radiated by giving him huge rounds of applause. The crowd especially responded to his enthusiastic cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil,” and they were equally impressed when he broke out his turntables, playing an impressive guitar solo over some classic Hip-Hop tracks. It was a strong finish to his set, and he thanked both the audience and The Verve Pipe for having him.

Like DiStefano, The Verve Pipe also carry a long history with them. Formed in Michigan in 1992, the band first gained commercial success with the release of their 1996 albumVillains, which rocketed to platinum status. While Villains may remain the band’s most famous release, The Verve Pipe have a total of eight albums under their belt, including two children’s/family albums, and their most recent Parachute, which was released in early 2017. The band has been touring extensively since that release, and were kind enough to pay the often overlooked Connecticut a visit.

When Brian Vander Ark (vocals, guitar), Lou Musa (lead guitar), Randy Sly (keyboards, backing vocals), Joel Ferguson (bass, backing vocals), Sam Briggs (drums, percussion), Channing Lee (backing vocals), and Craig Griffith (harmonica, backing vocals) all settled in behind their instruments, they received a huge cheer from the audience. Kicking off their set with the title track from Villains, The Verve Pipe were clearly out to prove that, even after 25 years as a band, they could still put on an amazing live show. Showing off their impressive musicianship, they kept the momentum going with another Villains track, “Reverend Girl,” a song that Vander Ark said he wrote about his mother, followed by a new track off Parachutes, entitled “I Can’t Get You Off My Mind.”

Moving along at a steady pace, Vander Ark took a moment to thank the audience and to comment on the positive vibe in the room. He also stated that since The Verve Pipe have been making music for over two decades, he and the band were happy to play their older songs and transport the audience back to the ‘90s. However, they also wanted to share the new work that keeps their creativity flowing, and so the band then went into “Wallflower,” a touching anti-bullying song that got a big reaction from the audience.

Then, it was time for one of the band’s biggest hits, “Photograph.” Fans were happy to hear this modern rendition of this classic, and the impeccable sound and stage setup at FTC’s StageOne was the perfect complement to the band’s musicianship. Speaking of that musicianship, the band seemed happy to show off their skills with an excellent, unique cover of Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” Of course, the crowd was thrilled to hear it, and those in attendance seemed even more engaged with the band from that point on.

The band quietly exited the stage after that, leaving Vander Ark alone with his acoustic guitar to play the title track from their 2001 album, Underneath, and then Vander Ark took a moment to explain the origin of their next song. Many know “Colorful” from the 2001 film Rock Star, starring Mark Wahlberg. Apparently, people seem to think that the song was a Mark Wahlberg original and that he was the one singing in the film, getting a laugh from the crowd.

The rest of the band slowly rejoined Vander Ark for “It’s the Little Things,” another excellent new track, and then he took the time to explain the origin of “The Freshman,” the band’s most popular song. He got a laugh by saying that explaining the song’s origin has ruined the song for some, so if anyone didn’t want the song ruined then they could just cover their ears. He went on to say that the song was partially inspired by the 1990 film The Freshman, and one of the song’s most famous lines came from the infamous Divinyls video for “I Touch Myself.” Even post-ruining, the band’s performance of “The Freshman” was still powerful and moving.

Following that was a brilliant, high energy performance of “Medicate Myself,” which went into the final song of the set, “Veneer.” The band received a swell of cheers, and then returned to the stage for an incredible rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” as an encore. Doing justice to Fleetwood Mac is no easy task, but somehow the band managed to go above and beyond. Everyone in the audience was on their feet and cheering as the exciting evening came to a close.

All in all, The Verve Pipe put on an amazing show full of surprises and old favorites, proving that their live performance is only getting better with time and experience. With a cluster of shows now through February 10th when they wrap-up the run in Grand Rapids, MI, make sure to check them out this go around, or, at the least, next time they come through your town!


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