Brad Patton

CONCERT REVIEW: Gin Blossoms continue to bloom in Mount Airy Casino performance

CONCERT REVIEW: Gin Blossoms continue to bloom in Mount Airy Casino performance
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For 85 glorious minutes on Saturday, Feb. 13, the jangling guitars and scrumptious harmonies of the Gin Blossoms rocked a near-capacity crowd at Mount Airy Casino Resort in Mount Pocono.

The quintet from Tempe, Arizona took the stage inside Gypsies at 8:15 with “Don’t Change for Me,” the leadoff track from the band’s fifth and most recent album, 2010’s “No Chocolate Cake.”

“Welcome to our second show of 2016,” lead singer Robin Wilson said as the crowd erupted at the opening notes of the evening’s second tune, “Allison Road,” from the band’s 1992 debut, “New Miserable Experience.”

The group then went back to “No Chocolate Cake” for “Somewhere Tonight” and back again to the debut for “Lost Horizons.”

That last song – like two of the band’s biggest hits, “Hey Jealousy” and “Found Out About You” – was written by the band’s original guitarist, Doug Hopkins, who was fired at the end of the sessions for the first album due to his heavy drinking. As his former band began to find success, Hopkins committed suicide in December 1993.

The band stayed together for a successful second album, but called it quits in 1997. After five years of solo projects, the Gin Blossoms got back together in 2002.

“It’s going to be a good, good year for the Gin Blossoms,” Wilson said following the fourth song. “We are going to do some recording in October and, until then, we will be playing all kinds of casinos and county fairs.”

He then picked up an acoustic guitar for a nice rendition of “As Long as It Matters” from the group’s second album, 1996’s “Congratulations I’m Sorry.”

In addition to Wilson, who kept the crowd involved by passing out tambourines throughout the show, the Gin Blossoms still feature guitarist Jesse Valenzuela and bassist Bill Leen from the debut record, guitarist Scotty Johnson, who replaced Hopkins, and drummer Scott Hessel, who joined the band in 2012.

Following “29” from the debut record, Wilson said, “We’re playing great tonight, Jess, way better than last year.”

“Way better than last night,” Valenzuela shot back, alluding to the band’s first gig of the year.
After two more songs from the most recent record – “Dead or Alive on the 405” and “Wave Bye Bye” – the band headed down the homestretch with the first album’s “Hands Are Tied” and “‘Til I Hear It from You,” which originally appeared on the soundtrack to “Empire Records” in 1995.

The main set came to a close with the crowd on its feet for knockout versions of “Found Out About You” and “Follow You Down.”

“We tried really hard not to suck,” Wilson said as the band came back out for its encore and tore into “Hey Jealousy,” which still sounds as good in 2016 as it did in 1992.

“We’re just a humble band,” Wilson said. “We leave you with one more song and our sincere gratitude.”

The band then ended the show with “Until I Fall Away,” another hit from the first album.