Going to the Michael Stanley & The Resonators show Saturday was a little bit like being at a reunion with several thousand close friends.
It’s true, most of us didn’t actually know each other. Still, we’re friends by extension, in a fourth cousin sort of way, by virtue of our shared experiences: love, lust, loss, the list of it all — emotional watermarks that have been scored by Stanley’s keenly biographical set pieces for the better part of more years than it would be polite for anyone to count.
Stanley and the eight-piece Resonators opened with three upbeat rockers that remain radio anthems around here. “In the Heartland,” “Midwest Midnight” (Eric Sosinski delivered the snarky, “Boy, you should be grateful” line) and “All I Ever Wanted,” stayed pretty true to memory.
Arrangements for the rest of the night were more laid back, giving Stanley’s earthy vocals a chance to well, resonate, and a tight band of veteran players a chance to show off a bit. The lineup includes: Sosinski (bass/vocals), Jennifer Lee (vocals), Marc Lee Shannon (guitar/mandolin), Danny Powers (guitar/vocals), Tommy Dobeck (drums), Rodney Psyka (percussion), and Lorain’s Paul Christensen (sax) and Bob Pelander (keyboards).
The setlist drew from 30 albums and included some clever covers. “This is the best Michael Stanley Band tribute band in the world,” he said at one point.
Most of the songs were crowd favorites. Danny Powers took over lead vocals on “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Mind” while Stanley, Lee and rows of people standing in a steady drizzle happily backed him up. “Let’s Get the Show On the Road” came in waves of solos, one crossfading into the next like scenes in a movie. Highlights included Christensen’s long, lonesome wail and Powers’ Latin shred, wrangled and driven home by relentless pacing from Shannon, Psyka and Dobek.
Of the outliers, one highlight was a quirky mashup of “Sweet Jane” and “Everything is Everything” (think the chanting chorus, “Witchi tai tai, hemorah hora nika hora nika” and you’ll remember). Another was Stanley’s choice for a song he wanted to hear. “Back on Lover’s Lane,” from 2007’s “The Soft Addictions,” was a requiem for a romance punctuated with breakup song piano from Pelander, a song that fits squarely in Stanley’s lost-love canon.
The Juke Hounds didn’t initially get the response they deserved from an audience alternately anxious for Stanley and distracted by threateningly stormy skies, but it didn’t take the band long to win them over.
The blues-rock four-piece: Gerard Dominick (bass), Bob Gardner (lead vocals, lead guitar), J. Calvin (sax) and Keith McFarren (drums) delivered two strong sets of bluesy, groove-heavy covers of Bill Withers, The James Gang, T-Rex, The Stones and Imagine Dragons and B. B. King.
Gardner, who looks deceptively like a high school history teacher, packed a full measure of swagger and Ian Astbury-edge into the vocal on of King’s “My Own Fault,” and held his own on guitar. The funk-ified strut of the original “Rust Belt Strong” had folks dancing.