The Smithereens live with special guest lead vocalist Robin Wilson of the Gin Blossoms - photos by Phillip Solomonson
What does a band do after their lead singer/co-founder/songwriter passes away? In the case of the Smithereens, they decided to continue performing concerts with guest vocalist Robin Wilson, after the loss of Pat DiNizio last December.
As the opening act for Dave Davies of the Kinks at the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan on Thursday, the Smithereens, founded in 1980, played a tight 45 minute set which mostly featured their best known songs.
The lead singer of the Gin Blossoms, Robin Wilson, took over lead vocals. He has the right voice that fits their material. Joking on more than one occasion that he was working in two different record stores when each of the Smithereens' first two albums came out in the early 80's, Wilson's performance was a fitting tribute to DiNizio's memory. The Waukegan show was the first full set by the Smithereens since the passing of DiNizio.
The crowd enthusiastically greeted the band. Favorites included "Top of the Pops," "Only a Memory," and an extended version of "House We Used to Live In," which included a jam of "Sparks" straight out of "Tommy"- era Who. Guitarist Jim Babjak even threw in a few Pete Townsend windmill guitar moves for emphasis.
The band finished their set with the one-two punch of "Blood & Roses" and "A Girl Like You." At the end of the set, Smithereens' drummer was only partly done for the night, as he was also filling in on drums for Dave Davies for the second portion of the show.