A steady backbeat. The swirling organ. Lots of saxophone. Two singers who double as dancers. One skunk striped haircut. Without a doubt, Fitz and the Tantrums have their act together, and worked it Thursday, the first of two nights at the Regency Ballroom.
The Tantrums, a stylish soul revival band with pop tendencies, are led by singer-songwriter Michael Fitzpatrick, a skinny man with a skinnier blonde streak in his 'do. Fitzpatrick’s voice is somewhere between blue-eyed soul artists Daryl Hall and Michael McDonald (the Doobie Brother, not the guy from MadTV, although there is a striking resemblance to the latter). Fitz is matched vocally by Noelle Scaggs, whose hair no longer matches the band’s banner. It’s the chemistry between the two that drives the band onstage, complementary but also competing to be more bombastic. Neither seems afraid to work up a sweat, but Scaggs for her part apparently picked up an old trick from Tina Turner, which is to hold the tambourine in hand and just shake the whole body.
In the last year, the group has been getting a lot of attention, mainly through festival performances, including Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. The Tantrums won me over at Sasquatch in Washington, with some nice placement before Sharon Jones. The show on Thursday was essentially the same, down to the banter, audience interaction, and requests to “get low.” Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it comes off more natural than mechanical – a level of polish and chops that would sweep X Factor or American Idol. If, however, that reality competition dreck comparison is a little too safe for comfort, rest assured that Fitz, for his part, drops way too many F-bombs for network TV.
1. Don’t Gotta Work It Out
2. Winds of Change
3. Breakin’ the Chains of Love
4. Wake Up
5. Pickin’ Up the Pieces
6. Rich Girl ("Rich girls will break your heart, but a poor girls will take all your fucking money.")
7. 6 AM
9. Lovesick Man
("This is where the motherfucking dance party will begin.")
11. Steady As She Goes (Raconteurs)
12. Dear Mr. President
13. News 4 U
14. We Don’t Need No Love Songs
15. Sweet Dreams (Eurythmics)