By APRIL HUNT
Johnette Napolitano’s vampires can kick your vampire’s butt. I’m looking at you, Stephanie Meyer.
The frontwoman for Concrete Blonde, who brought its Vampires Rise 2010 tour to the Variety Playhouse Wednesday night, could surely command as much attention among the undead as she did among the living throng that stayed on its feet, cheering and singing along, for the entire two-hour set.
The tour celebrates the 20th anniversary of the release of “Bloodletting,” the band’s most popular album that spawned the hit, “Joey.”
(So a thank you to the tweens who think vampires are, like, so misunderstood and prompted a reissue of “Bloodletting,” coming July 13, complete with six bonus tracks including B-sides and the extended, French version of the title song).
I memorized every word on the album (and the ones that came before it) as a stick-thin pale blonde teen. The music, and Napolitano’s husky voice, have lost nothing in the ensuing two decades (We won’t discuss that I remain blonde but doughy, while Napolitano, at 52, still looks rock-chick hot with her long tresses and tight black skirt).
The band opened with “Bloodletting,” showcasing a stage covered with shimmery black drapes and red roses. Next up, “Joey,” in an apparent bid to get it over with.
Not that the album didn’t get a full airing. That includes a poignant moment when Napolitano made a quick sign of the cross and looked to the rafters during the line, “I don’t need a father,” in the song, “I Don’t Need a Hero.” Her father, John died last year.
But the band made sure to cover its entire catalog, dipping into its more pop offerings like “Happy Birthday,” (complete with punk-goth Napolitano doing her best ’60s dance moves) and blistering punk song, “God Is A Bullet.”
And the less-known songs, like “Your Haunted Head” showcased ever-mellow guitarist Jim Mankey – low key even when the spotlight was on him – and why he is among the most underrated players of the modern rock era.
Add in the occasional cover – everybody knew they had to do Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” – and you have the kind of rock show like they used to do.
“You haven’t changed a bit. You’re still as great as ever,” Napolitano told the crowd before the first encore.
Back atcha. And while you’re at it, could you do something about that annoyingly angsty Bella?
3. I Don’t Need A Hero
4. Days and Days
6. Scene of A Perfect Crime
7. Ghost of a Texas Ladies Man
9. Everybody Knows
11. When I Was A Fool
12. God Is A Bullet
13. Run Run Run
14. Little Wing
15. Heal It Up
16. Your Haunted Head
17. Mexican Moon
18. Happy Birthday
20. Tomorrow, Wendy
21. Still in Hollywood