Thursday, August 27, 2015

Bodeans at City Winery

Kurt Neumann
Kurt Neumann and Sam Llanas met in 1977 while in high school in Waukesha, Wisconsin. They wrote songs together until Llanas entered college, but soon after Neumann persuaded him to pursue music with him. They began to sing and play guitar under the name Da BoDeans in 1980. By 1983, Da BoDeans were playing Milwaukee's music scene with a hired drummer and bass player. They shortened the band's name prior to the release of a debut album in 1986, and Bodeans achieved moderate success over the years. Bodeans' 12th studio album, I Cant Stop, spelled without an apostrophe, was released on April 21, 2015.

Bodeans is still recovering from the departure of Llanas in 2011, but Neumann continued to lead the band in stride. At City Winery tonight, Bodeans played it safe. Much of the set was comprised of songs from when Llanas was a Bodean, but now with Neumann as the sole front man. The band that in its early years straddled between country rock and pop settled into a comfortable middle ground. The problem with the middle ground was that tonight's performance also was very much middle of the road. Neumann sang well, the back-up musicians were polished, the arrangements were sweet, and the accordion was a very nice touch, but there was little bravado or ingenuity to propel the music beyond passive car-radio like-ability. Today's Bodeans is a quintet that sits comfortably in its history, and the concert was pleasant enough, but the performance would have been more interesting if it had been less predictable.

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