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Live Review and Photo Gallery: Marvelous 3 at House of Blues • Chicago

| November 5, 2023

Marvelous 3 (via Instagram)


Marvelous 3

House of Blues

Chicago, IL

Friday, November 3, 2023

Review and photos by Jeff Elbel

The energy, musicianship, and production of Friday’s concert at House of Blues by the Marvelous 3 did not seem like the work of a band playing a mere five gigs after 22 years apart (aside from a short reunion set in 2018). The show was a non-stop blast of catchy power-pop, skill, and goodwill. Maybe singer/guitarist Butch Walker missed one or two more pick-stunt catches than he might have in the late ‘90s. The real tell-tale signs that this was a brief stint, however, were the naked emotions emanating from the stage. Singer/guitarist Butch Walker, bassist Jayce Fincher, and drummer Doug “Slug” Mitchell expressed their mutual love and joy at being together in both word and deed while extending those feelings to a sold-out audience that was with them all the way.

The bulk of the setlist was drawn from Hey! Album (celebrating its 25th anniversary this year) and 2000’s ReadySexGo. The band also pulled a few tracks to represent brand-new album IV.

The adrenaline blast of “You’re So Yesterday” began the show with a cheeky self-referential jab. The explosive “Little Head” and swaggering “Grant Park” followed.

The band was far more interested in savoring the experience than playing it cool. “Oh, shit, this is fun, y’all,” said Fincher after the band blasted through heavy pop confection “Write it On Your Hand.” “We have the best time playing together,” said Walker. “Thank you so much, Chicago.”

“I don’t have a better setup for this song except to say you guys are fucking beautiful,” added Walker as the band launched “Beautiful” from ReadySexGo. Between riffs and licks, Walker bounced his guitar pick off the base of his guitar and caught it in midair. The swinging “Every Monday” followed, with every voice in the room singing along powerfully. “Mrs. Jackson” was another opportunity for fervent audience participation.

There were a couple of indicators of the time that Marvelous 3 had spent away from concert stages. One was the gray flecking Walker’s unruly mop of hair. The other was the presence of Jayce Fincher’s son Holden as a vital part of the ensemble. Photos on screen showed the younger Fincher walking onstage as a toddler during the Marvelous 3’s heyday. The guitarist more than held his own with the band, facing off with Walker for harmonized solos during songs like “Vampires in Love” (during which the band quoted Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”) and adding vocal power throughout the set. Pride radiated from the elder Fincher and from Walker as well. “He’s out to get our job,” said Walker. “I love you, Holden.” Walker and the younger Fincher performed a moving duet of the heartsick ballad “Let Me Go,” sharing stirring vocals while Walker sat at the piano and Fincher played guitar.

Walker described his youthful connection to the Atlanta-based band The Producers, with one of the band members dating his sister. Upon hearing one of their songs on the radio, Walker recalled his teenaged disbelief, “God, that’s a great song. There’s no way they wrote that!” The band then played its crunchy pop overhaul of The Producers’ 1982 hit “She Sheila,” included as the only cover song on IV. The Marvelous 3 added the muscular sound of Cheap Trick to the Producers’ original new wave and power pop foundation. The Finchers added shimmering harmonies to Walker’s melody.

Slug’s sturdy beat heralded “Over My Head,” but not before Walker quoted the Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker” and led the crowd in singing Smash Mouth hit “All Star” in tribute to late friend Steve Harwell. The crowd joined the Marvelous 3’s kiss-off chorus, flipping their middle fingers as Walker sang, “He gave you the castle, baby, so I’ll give you the bird.”

Walker played a hot guitar solo quoting Rush’s “The Spirit of Radio” while stage snow fell on the audience during “Cold as Hell.” The band teased a bit of “Tainted Angel” from their prior incarnation as SouthGang before following with fresh cuts from IV, including the nostalgic but recriminatory “My Old School Metal Heart.”The hard-hitting and tuneful “If We’re On Fire (Let It Burn)” sounded like a mash-up of Rick Springfield, Cheap Trick, the Jackson 5, and Sweet.

The band paused for a whiskey toast with the crew before blasting through the defiant “Sugar Buzz.” “Is that apple juice? I love apple juice,” quipped Walker as he was handed a glass. Jayce Fincher lofted t-shirts into the crowd with a stadium slingshot.

Slug banged a gong to ignite the Queen and Mott the Hoople-styled glam rock of “Radio Tokyo.” Alongside songs like Spacehog’s “In the Meantime,” it was a touchstone to the ‘90s vibrant glam revival. Fans’ lighters appropriately appeared throughout the room afterward for the power ballad “Cigarette Lighter Love Song.” Walker finished with a high falsetto vocal reminiscent of the Darkness’ Justin Hawkins. The band made displays of mutual devotion and affection before waving goodbye and departing the stage.

Marvelous 3 reappeared in matching Blackhawks jerseys (all sporting number three, naturally) to bring the house down with euphoric hit single “Freak of the Week.” “I don’t want this to be over!,” exclaimed Walker before dispensing praise upon his bandmates and the audience one last time. The show concluded with a revved-up cover of Burt Bacharach’s “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me” via Naked Eyes, performed under a flurry of balloons and confetti.

After a final embrace and brotherly kisses all around, the Marvelous 3 left the elated audience singing Styx’s hit “Come Sail Away” as the house lights came up.

With original plans for only a hometown stand at Atlanta’s The Tabernacle, it was a testament to the band’s connection with its audience in Chicago that the Windy City was the only other location to host reunion shows. Strongholds, including New York and Los Angeles, were bypassed. The band has stated that no more concerts are planned. Fans who missed the performances can pick up newly released vinyl copies of Hey! AlbumReadySexGo, and IV recreate the set list and escape into their headphones.

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Category: IE Photo Gallery, Live Reviews

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