In accordance with the age-old show biz axiom of “Always open out of town,” Manitoba made their world debut on Friday, Jan. 13. The band headlined at Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, NJ, as part of the “Light the Day” benefit series.
It had been a looooong 5 years since these songs have been performed in the loud and proud, and it was a toss-up as to who was more excited — the band, to finally have the chance to play them, or the audience, who finally had their patience rewarded by being able to hear them. Suffice to say, it was an emotional and cathartic night for everyone in attendance. The supermodel-thin Handsome Dick spoke for everyone in the room when he bellowed, “There’s nowhere I’d rather be than in a bowling alley in New Jersey on a beautiful Friday night!”
Any doubts about whether or not the magic could still happen were immediately put to rest as the band crushed the opening “The Party Starts Now.” The looks of sheer joy on RTB’s and J.P.’s faces, as they were FINALLY able to play the classics, were enough to warm even the most frostbitten in the crowd.
And what of the new kids, you ask? Daniel “No Current Nickname” Rey was rock-steady on rhythm gtr, and having him on a Gibson made for an incredibly thick and powerful sound. And Dean “The Dream” Rispler is a monster on bass. When you see him before the gig, he’s a normal-sized guy. But when he’s on stage, he is a nine-foot-tall THUNDER machine.
Musical highlights included the guitar duel on “Slow Death,” hilariously punctuated by HDM’s rants of “It’s the Grateful Dead!! JERRY!” Daniel and J.P. provided sweet 2-part coverage of the harmony and solo spots in “Avenue A.”
Is it the Dictators? No, and it never will be. Get over it already. But is the power and glory intact, and is the legacy of the Dictators treated with respect? Hell Yes.
The inevitable if if if if questions that will determine sustainability — if they can resolve a pecking order, if 5 egos can be contained within 1 band, if a songwriting voice emerges — well, these are issues that every new band has to face. They can be worries for another day. For now, let’s rejoice in the happy news that, this thing of ours — IT LIVES!!
— Salvi C.