Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Live Review: Mike Stern Band - Bitter End, NYC 8/8/23

Mike Stern Band
Live at the Bitter End
NYC 8/8/23

The NYC based guitar legend Mike Stern brought his band to the Bitter End stage on a summer Tuesday night as the crowd packed into the Greenwich Village long running room down on Bleecker street. Stern has only played the club a few times and mentioned before the start of the set what a fun place it is to play. 

Backed by four other artists, Leni Stern (guitar/n'goni/vocals) Bob Franceschini (sax) and two Warren's (whose last names I missed) on bass and drums, Stern was beaming throughout the night, clearly having a ball with the band and the fans.

The quintet opened with "Like A Thief" as Leni sang the tune and played n'goni wonderfully.  The track had a soft Caribbean feel as it breezed through the club with Stern's delicate runs up and down the scales as Franceschini's sax soothed. The opening number was a good way to ease into the night but the follow up was what blew out the night. 

Stern's original "Tumble Home" was next and the highlight of the whole show. Stern opened the effort with delicate jazz guitar to start, the most impressive thing with Stern is how soft he can play understated while still moving all over the place, and this really was on display to start. Then Stern turned up the volume and crunched out harder rock sounds as his long solo work weaved around. The song then dropped into a blues vamp as Franceschini's sax was the focus before each artist got a solo spotlight in this same vein as the tune wrapped up after an almost half hour of majesty. 

After loud cheers the band started up "Ave B" which again starts with soft Stern solo's before delving into a cool hypnotic groove. The circular track had a downtown vibe with darkness lurking around the edges, this was juxtaposed with the follow up newer song that was upbeat and filled with sunshine as Stern added melodic vocal impressions. 

At this point Stern stopped giving the song titles and the tunes moved more into a funky vibe with solos and grooves taking center stage as the restrained tone, yet fiery playing, coexisted on the Bitter End stage as the group got loose. The funky rock with jazz solo break dominated before the hour and a half set wrapped up with "Chromazone" which kept the same vibe pumping with heavy drumming pushing the band forward as the group dropped some hard breaks around the grooves and solos. 

The sold out house gave cheers to wrap up the night as the band mingled with the crowd post show as Stern and company delivered the jazz rock goods on this evening.      
Support the artists, peep some video below from his last show at The Bitter End with a different band. I will update this if videos surface from this show:

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