I’ll admit I was more than thrilled to see Candlebox on The Egg’s calendar for February 2, 2016. Having been a fan since the early 90’s and caught their show at SUNY Albany’s RACC (now SEFCU Arena) in February 1995, it was a chance to relive the glory days of senior year, before life happened.
So when I found out earlier this week that it would be acoustic Candlebox, I gave pause because I was expecting the full band instead of something stripped down. Expectations were set on electric but acoustic performances of songs you’ve listened to for more than 20 years was a change I could get behind. Within moments of Kevin Martin discussing the story and the conditions behind writing “Sweet Summertime,” I became intently focused, more so than I would have been hearing the usual renditions from the Candlebox lexicon, without a little something extra on the side. Over the next two hours, Martin and Brian Quinn played a dozen Candlebox songs and gave insight into how these compositions were created amid turbulent paths taken by the band and behind the scenes.
It only took two songs to get to the dark side of Candlebox, and just like that, I was 17 again. “Drowned” was introduced as the result of Maverick Records, who launched Candlebox’s first album to national acclaim, faced pressure from in an effort to produce Lucy, the follow up their 1993 self-titled debut. “Cover Me,” has a religious focus, as Martin doubted that one lone god was the right one among the many gods throughout history.
Casual drug talk accompanied the stories behind some of Candlebox’s songs this night. Martin didn’t overshare or have a story of a wild night in a hotel room leaving no detail behind – rather he referenced what particular substance was behind the writing of certain songs, without glorifying or defending the drug usage. If anything, it was matter of factly explained and accepted by the audience, just as spats with Maverick Records were taken as a frame for particular songs and not a rant for the sake of complaining. Drugs influenced a handful of songs as recalled by Martin, including “Change” (mushrooms), and “Blossom” (love). “Want it Back” was the lone new song of the night, appearing on the upcoming album Disappearing in Airports, due out in April. Martin made note that New York is still the state with Candlebox’s best all time album sales at 1.5 million, and thanked the sold out crowd in The Egg’s Swyer Theatre.
Throughout the night, it was uncanny how the tone of Martin’s voice hasn’t changed a bit in 25 years; emotion packed lyrics poured out over intense guitar work from Quinn. Songs of longing, such as “Miss You,” was dedicated to his father, a WWII veteran, and “Love Come Back to Me” were stellar.
He did decline a request to play “Breakaway,” regarding the suggestion with “Memories of the process are very painful and the process of recording Happy Pills was so raw,” that to revisit the lyrics in this point and time wouldn’t have the same power and meaning behind them. “Far Behind,” written in tribute to Andy Wood from Mother Love Bone, whom they first knew in the Seattle scene in 1991, was given a new frame from which to hear the song.
After, Brian broke into “The Weight” to the surprise of the audience who sang along while a song off the forthcoming album, “Alive at Last,” closed the show. Without a doubt, acoustic Candlebox exceeded expectations and makes seeing the full live band a must with new light shed on songs that have aged well.
Frank Palangi, a Queensbury native, opened the show with a 30 minute set of gritty acoustic guitar work and flexible vocals that captured the attention of the crowd. Palangi channeled Faith no More, Alice in Chains, Lifehouse and other late 90s rockers through a series of originals that must translate well in a live, plugged-in setting. For a local musician opening for Candlebox at The Egg, the thrill was visible in his smile and on stage presence.
Frank Palagni Setlist: Break These Chains, I am Ready, Godsmack Mix, Working Man, Boohoo, Driving These Lines, Turn it All Around
Candlebox Setlist: Sweet Summertime, Drowned, Cover Me, Change, Blossom, Want It Back, Miss You, Lover Come Back To Me, Sometime, You, Far Behind, The Weight*, Alive At Last
*Brian Quinn solo