Review:
The Michael Weber Show's Live at the Palace
Alex Hall, 11-29-2018


Cover art courtesy of the artist.
If the Cuyahoga Falls area was America, Michael Weber would be America's Sweetheart. In fact, he actually has turned heads nationally since winning the MTV talent show Amazingness earlier this year. Though he is a resident of Silver Lake, Falls natives have embraced him, and it is in the Falls that he is probably most recognizable, since he has so often performed at downtown festivals and events. For many, Weber will always be the nine-year-old kid inexplicably performing on stage with Counting Crows or working the crowd at Christy's Melody Inn as a 13-year-old banging out The Who's “Pinball Wizard” on an acoustic guitar. For others, he may seem like one of countless quasi-virtuosos who show up in music stores across the country and show off how well they can play Stevie Ray Vaughan or Jimi Hendrix licks on the guitar. Either way, Weber has an authenticity that is effectively captured on his newest release, Live at the Palace.

Recorded during a headlining performance at the Rusty Nail Festival on February 17th at the Lorain Palace Theater, the four-song live EP contains around seven minutes of original music and around 17 minutes of cover material. The highlight is the set-opening, original song “Scars in Disguise,” which has a lyrical resonance all listeners could appreciate. The other original tune, “Can't See Eye to Eye,” is drawn from Weber's 2016 release, The Hollywood EP, and is the singular break from Weber's frantic musical energy and overt 70s throwback sound, which remain consistent across the cover material and original songs alike.

Although The Michael Weber Show is not really a jamband, live renditions of the songs contain open-ended solo sections, during which Weber flaunts an impressive arsenal of guitar riffs and licks pulled from the titans of classic rock. He effortlessly leads the band with what seems like careful attention to pacing, so the extended solos rarely feel stale, but the mishmash of classic rock guitar tricks might read cliché for particularly discerning listeners. Still, one would hardly expect less on a song like “Red House,” which has been played to death in the 50+ years since Hendrix recorded it, and the inclusion of the song in Weber's song rotation probably says more about his target audience than it does about the band or Weber as a musician.

“Maggot Brain,” on the other hand, while itself an overplayed cut, is still a bit more obscure. Guitar players flock to this song because it affords them the opportunity to play a 10-minute guitar solo, just like Eddie Hazel managed on the Funkadelic album that shares the song's title. While there may be a lack of originality in terms of song selection here, however, fans of the song will surely be pleased, as careful pacing steadies the proverbial ship and the soloing leaves little to be desired. In fact, Weber plays this one around three minutes’ shy of the original Funkadelic recording.

One of the interesting things about The Michael Weber Show is that attending a performance feels a lot like seeing a cover band or tribute act, in spite of the fact that the group performs original songs and draws from a wide variety of artists for its cover material. Part of this perception might come from Weber's anachronistic wardrobe and guitar-oriented showmanship—the image of a performer in bellbottoms playing the guitar behind his head just doesn't seem like something one would expect as part of a contemporary, original act. Still, it all works somehow, and though the band isn't likely to be branded an influencer in contemporary original music, they'll surely continue to perform for enthusiastic crowds that enjoy the idea of a youngster like Weber carrying the classic rock torch via both original and cover songs.

Then again, Weber is young—only 20 years old, in fact—and musicians go through different creative periods over their careers, often to rave reviews. So while Weber hasn't yet released his progressive rock or psychedelia records—nor perhaps found his unique creative perspective—Live at the Palace remains a fun set from a fun performer.

Check out The Michael Weber Show online at www.themichaelwebershow.com.


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