At the end of his band’s set, lead vocalist Hnry Flwr came off the stage at Cafe Nine with an acoustic guitar to play a song solo. He said was about context, noting it was “special when I sing it in New Haven.”
“The meaning lies in the context,” Flwr sang. But the Brooklyn-based Hnry Flwr had already set the context on Tuesday evening. The triple bill of Flwr, The Ferdy Mayne, and hometown heroes Elison Jackson turned Cafe Nine into a rest stop for these touring bands — who were continuing on to Boston and Philadelphia — and a respite for weary friends eager for spring to truly begin.
Towards the end of his set, Borts Minorts took a moment between songs to tell the audience something: “It’s good to have something you love that makes your life happy. This is it, guys!”
Minorts was one of two acts to bring their passion to the stage of Lyric Hall Theater on a bitter cold Friday night. This bill, which included the return of New Haven’s Tet Offensive to Lyric Hall for the first time in six months, more than delivered on the promise written on the show flyer to “entertain the crap out of you.”
“Shadow of an Angel,” off Best Creation, the new album by Opus (aka Christian Lawrence), begins with a cascade of notes from an acoustic guitar, picked with precision, grace — and heaviness. The same kind of weight suffuses the vocal that comes in first on a breath and fills out with tone to carry the first line of lyrics.
“I don’t understand,” Opus sings. “I’m so confused / Help me win this war / Because I don’t want to lose.” Low strings add even more depth to the song. It all screams one thing: metal. Except that the heavily distorted guitars, the pounding drums, the grinding bass, never arrive. It’s just Opus’s rich voice, the guitar, and the strings. And it’s all heavy enough.
Vyacheslav Gryasnov — who is performing a solo recital at Lyric Hall this Saturday, fresh off a concert at Carnegie Hall — makes me ask just how near to heaven New Haven is.
Not two weeks ago I heard the Yale Philharmonia in an ideal program: Brahms’s Symphony No. 3 in F major and Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin providing balanced indulgences, with an unfamiliar (to me) Shostakovich — his Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor — for piquancy. On an outstanding evening the Shostakovich stood out, thanks to a commanding performance by Gryasnov, a young pianist from Sakhalin Island, the remotest reach of Russia.
Drenched in red and pink light, Zambonis founder Dave Schneider hopped onto the stage. He tuned his guitar and took a quick look at the crowd at Cafe Nine. The crowd had started to dwindle; it was pushing 11 p.m. But Schneider wasn’t the least bit tired. Instead, he told the still-cheering audience, he was feeling energized, and ready to close out a set with one of his group’s old standards, called The Captain.
“This song is about hockey, but it’s also about being your own captain, and doing what’s right,” he said.
About halfway through the Butterflies of Love’s set at Lyric Hall on Saturday, singer, songwriter and guitarist Jeff Greene asked the audience, “How many people out there really hate the Butterflies of Love?” All he received back was laughter.
“I was looking for a more negative response,” he replied, then launched into a story about the old days of the band that referenced a negative response they had once received.
“I only operate when I have something to work against,” he stated at the end of the story. That still didn’t deter the wall-to-wall crowd at Lyric Hall from giving the love back, again and again, to this perennially popular local band who made a long-awaited appearance in New Haven. A band that enjoyed local and international success in the 1990s, Butterflies of Love headlined Saturday night, along with Bill Beckett and Procedure Club, for one of only three performances — the second in Asbury Park, N.J., and the third in London, England.