Friday Night: Garland Jeffreys at the Continental Club

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Garland Jeffreys Continental Club June 22, 2012

Oh, Houston, what were you thinking? After Rocks Off has touted your attributes, your beauty, your understated sense of cool to many a foreigner, why would you not show up for Garland Jeffreys? Most of you were probably at home resting up for Sunday's geezer-fest with Van Halen, I suppose.

But hats off to the 80 or 90 people, including Houston Texan Connor Barwin and his small party, who showed up at the Continental Club for a rarer than rare show -- Jeffreys reckoned he was last here in 1991, although his father is buried here -- visit from one of rock's unwavering, unapologetic greats.

Be that as it may, Jeffreys brought a crack band and shove-it-down-their-throat attitude to the affair Friday night that saw him burn -- blaze might be the better term -- through rock anthems that will be around long after Justin Bieber is an insecticidal blood-and-guts blob on the windshield of history.

It's rather funny that the New York City rocker gets to Europe more often than he gets to Texas. Start Googling Mr. Jeffreys; there's way more Euro press on him than U.S. press, and it all glows with praise, admiration, and respect: "A faultless performance" (Le Figaro); "A corker!" (The Sun); "Superb" (Libération); "'The Contortionist' is the rock song of the year" (Frankfurter Algemeine); "This guy is dynamite" (London Sunday Times); "4.5 stars" (Rolling Stone Germany).

And Jeffreys' old nugget "Wild In the Streets" was just used in the Max Payne 3 game.

Rolling into the Bayou City from Austin Friday night, Jeffreys got right down to business with little fanfare, breaking hard into Springsteen-ish, Velvet Underground-y rockers "I'm Alive" and "Coney Island Winter" from last year's The King of In Between, swaggering through them like a boxer feeling his way through the opening round, remembering what being hit is like.

It didn't hurt that Jeffreys was backed by four aces: Austin-via-Brooklyn guitar whiz Billy Masters, fireplug bulldog Brooklyn drum-pounder Tom Curiano, ace bassist Dave Monsey, and guitarist/keyboardist Mark Addison. They built a rock and roll chariot for Jeffreys to drive as fast as he wanted.

For most of the night, Jeffreys floored it, beginning with a blistering version of his homage "'Til John Lee Hooker Calls Me." "Mystery Kids" dialed up that NYC rock and roll groove that lies somewhere between Lou Reed and the Ramones. It was perfect in every way. Ending with a blitzkreig version of "Wild In the Streets" was a no-brainer and a sure encore earner.

And by encore time, the smallish crowd was whooping and hollering for everything Jeffreys did. He returned to the stage and broke hard into "96 Tears," the song he sang a few weeks ago in Europe with Springsteen. This was rock and roll, straight from the garage to the soul, the way it was designed to be.

He threw a sweet curve ball for his strike out pitch, an impassioned, rocking cover of Dylan's "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall."

And with that, he was on to San Antonio. Houston, you should've been there.

Personal Bias: Bands with no bullshit. Put up or shut up.

The Crowd: Older, kinda gray, but they came to rock.

Overheard in the Crowd: "Is that a Gram Parson's song?" (During "96 Tears")

Random Notebook Dump: "I love Cathy." "Who doesn't, take a number and get in line."

Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.

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