Miracle Legion at The Chapel, by Patric Carver

Miracle Legion (photo: Patric Carver)

The Bye Bye Blackbirds played a very solid opening set for the Miracle Legion concert at the Chapel on April 29. The Oakland power pop rockers started with "Elizabeth Park" and dedicated it to the late Gil Ray, the former drummer for Game Theory and Rain Parade, who passed away earlier this year. This rendition of the song was as passionate I’ve ever seen, and a great tribute to the late musician. Bradley Skaught, lead vocals for The Bye Bye Blackbirds, has a charming reluctant frontman vibe that I really dig – minimal talk between songs, a musicianship that is buried within their anima, and no jokes about the sound guy. He’s surrounded by good company, too. Aaron Rubin provides solid bass and Lenny Gill plays guitar with all the proficiency of a session musician. K.C. Bowman filled in the viscous harmonies that make the Blackbirds' unique sound (and provided some darling tambourine). Jozef Becker, formerly of Game Theory and Thin White Rope, had a machine-like rhythm that managed to have soul and depth – the consistency of Charlie Watts with more personality. For these reasons the Blackbirds remind me why I love live music every time I see them.

Miracle Legion played a set that was enthralling for fans. Evoking the excitement of an old-time church revival, Lead singer Mark Mulcahy touched fans heads as if blessing them during his performance. A woman lifted her arms up in what we call the filled-with-the-spirit stance in the South and shared a moment with Mulcahy that envied any exchange between the television evangelical and the studio audience member hoping to be saved. However, there was an utter absence of charm and grace in Mulcahy’s stage presence. He seemed slightly possessed rather than possessive, stomping his red-laced boots on the monitors with furor and literally kicking his heels up. Guitarist Ray Neal, or Mr. Ray as he is known to fans, looped impressive guitar licks around Mulcahy’s guttural vocals. The pair seemed very much in synch with each other, and perhaps a little out of touch with the world around them. The more dethatched they became, the more riled the fans responded. The almost speaking-in-tongues twill of "Closer to the Wall" was a highlight of the set. Mulcahy spit-talked trying lyrics at rapid fire to a quaking crowd that absorbed every ounce of his message.

Though they’ve said it about a half dozen times, this was supposedly Miracle Legion’s last show. Time will tell if that’s actually the case, but I think the wave of love crashing from fans of the band last night would be a fitting end to carry Miracle out to sea.