11 April 2018 (gig)
15 April 2018
Reunions tours, which are becoming a much more common event, can actually be a risky move for any band (as the tarnishing of ones legacy is always a risk). Lately we've seen some bands whom, after many years of inactivity, have finally decided to make-up and hit the road again. However, a number of these tours are immediately met with controversy, as when some of the gangs go out on their long awaited regrouping, they tend to be missing a key member or two. While this didn't hurt the massively successful Guns N' Roses' "Not In This Lifetime" tour, which has been a gigantic success (in spite of the absence of original members Izzy Stradlin and Steven Adler, which has rubbed many a fan the wrong way). The Smashing Pumpkins (Billy Corgin in particular) have received a lot of heat for not including original bassist D'arcy Wretzky on their upcoming reunion jaunt. The verbal jabbing online that went on between Wretzky and Corgan greatly overshadowed what should have been a much celebrated return of one the 90's most iconic ensembles.
Amidst all the drama that has beclouded other groups, L7s decision to regroup in 2014 has been a most welcome return. Mainly because they are one of the only bands in history who are truly doing it for love of their music (and to create more).
Sporting the classic lineup of Donita Sparks, Suzi Gardner, Jennifer Finch, and Demetra Plakas, L7 was one of the best of the late 80's and 90's groups. While they are at times lumped in with bands of the “riot grrrl” era, L7 was much more diverse than most of the other ensembles of that movement. Sure, they are real "punks," but they truly flourished during the grunge movement, and have a catalog and a fierce live act, which many from that time, cannot match.
L7 performed on April 11, 2018 at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston, Massachusetts. They opened their 21 song set with a tale of self-destruction, "Deathwish" and the lust filled, "Monster," both of which featured Sparks as primary vocalist. "Everglade," where Finch got her turn on lead vocals, was killer, as she belted out a story of a way-too-violent member of a mosh pit.
Evoking memories of their 1994 release, "Hungry for Stink" (the last full 90s album the band did with Finch still in the group) - the quartet tore through a fervent romp of the grunge-laced/hard rock "Andres."
While they stayed mostly with their classic era tunes, they did revisit the 1999 CD, "Slap-Happy" with the near mid-set "Crackpot Baby." They also dished out a trio of tunes - "Drama", "Off the Wagon," and "Must Have More," - from 1997s "The Beauty Process: Triple Platinum" release. Sparks dedicated "Must Have More" to their second bass player, Gail Greenwood, who was in the audience this night (not surprising, as she is a local girl). The band called her onstage, but she did not appear (sad, as it would have been iconic to have seen Greenwood and Finch trade bass grooves together).
Not content on relying on past glories, they pulled out 2017s “Dispatch From Mar-a-Lago” (the first new song this line-up of L7 had released since 1994) and the phenomenal (and self-explanatory) "I Came Back To Bitch,' which dropped this year. Both tunes show that the fire and passion in their songwriting is still as crucial as ever.
After the set closing, "Sh**tlist," which brought the Paradise crowd to a frenzy, they returned for a three song encore. A cover of Agent Orange Punk classic, "Bloodstains," and vicious versions of "Pretend We're Dead" (which is also the name of the outstanding 2017 documentary on L7) and “Fast and Frightening.”
Saying that L7 has not lost a step is an understatement. All four members are very charismatic, and are just a vital now as they have ever been. This was one of the greatest reunion shows this writer has ever witnessed.
Show opener Death Valley Girls are a new talent with plenty to offer. Touring behind the album, "Glow in The Dark," tunes such as "Death Valley Boogie" and "Street Justice" were punk edged and alluring. Lead singer Bonnie Bloomgarden reminds one vocally of a cross between Dale Bozio (from Missing Persons) and Poly Styrene (late singer of X Rey Spex).