Major and the Monbacks Album Release Show Review

April 30, 2015

by Carly Shields

On Thursday at The Broadberry in Richmond, Virginia, the crowd was buzzing with energy and excitement. What had already been a great show was about to be even better, and everyone there knew it. Major and the Monbacks were about to take the stage for their album release performance. Griff’s Room Band opened the show with a fun and light set of Americana pop before the Sleepwalkers jumped on stage with their rowdy rock ‘n’ roll. Though these two openers may have been on opposite ends of the musical spectrum, but they perfectly demonstrated the range of music that the Monbacks play, making it a perfect start to the night.

The Monbacks took to the stage in front of a growing crowd, all 8 members finding their position among the instruments and amplifiers. They opened with a new tune, called “The Clap,” that has their distinct big band sound and vibrant energy. Then they switched instruments and began the album as it’s recorded, with the first track being “I Can Hardly Wait” and going right into “Somedays.” By the fourth song, “Annabelle,” they had fully established what the night was going to be like- high-energy, infectious tunes played by musicians who couldn’t look happier. The horn section, featuring Aaron Reeves on trumpet and Nate Sacks on saxophone, was the flawless backdrop the Monbacks relied on to drive their songs. Neal Friedman on keys and vocals had the perfect delivery for each song when the lead wasn’t on guitarists/vocalists Harry Schloeder or Michael Adkins, who also performed stunningly. Holding down the bass and drums were Cole Friedman and Bryan Adkins, respectively, but the most joyful, transfixing person to watch was the percussionist, Tyler West. Labeled as the “hype” man on the Monbacks’ Facebook page, West made every second of every song even more interesting than it already was.

The Monbacks’ saw this show as not only a chance to get their new album out to the fans, but also to showcase some new music that they’d been working on. The fifth song in their set, “Over and Over,” was a fresh one that fit right in with the kind of material they’d been playing. They skipped over a track from the album and went straight to “Sunshine,” which could easily be the single off this new release, with its funky, danceable, loving sound. “Condition” was another new track, a little slower than the others to allow for a bit of breathing room. Both band and fans had been grooving non-stop since the beginning of the set, and this track, though certainly worth listening to, was the break they needed. From there, they dove back into their album, playing “Don’t Say A Word,” “Be My Baby,” “Fool,” “Magnolia,” and closing the set with the last track of the album “I Do.” As an encore, they covered Paul McCartney’s “Coming Up” as a spot-on reference to things to come for Major and the Monbacks.