It’s been 21 years since Cherry Poppin’ Daddies played their first live show in their home town of Eugene, Oregon, and there aren’t enough clichéd exclamations in existence to describe what they’ve been though since.
For this, their big celebration – the 21st anniversary tour, they’ve left their props and theatrics (and the Dildozer) at home, relying only on themselves and their music to get them by. This was more than enough.
The band’s collective feel had barely hit the stage before they began to play. Dr Bones was quickly followed by No Mercy for Swine, and the swing was on. The seven piece band and their suits looked and sounded the part, and in response the Corner Hotel was jumping from beginning to end.
Front man Steve Perry (not the guy from Journey), has quite the showman reputation, and on Saturday night he was completely in form. He was dancing before the music started, and kept it up with one of the finest displays of dancing and showmanship this scribe has had the pleasure to bear witness to. There was spinning, skanking, and a little strip tease as he undid his belt during ‘Here Comes the Snake’. There were jazz hands. To be honest, at times you could be forgiven for wondering if you were watching a band or a performance of The Boy From Oz with added camp production.
Just as Cherry Poppin’ Daddies albums are a mixed bag of concepts and styles, jumping around from genre to genre with reckless abandon, so was this set. The Dixieland trumpets and dueling saxophones in ‘So LongToots’, ‘Diamond Light Boogie’ and ‘When I Change Your Mind’ commanded the crowd to dance, before morphing themselves into offbeat ska lines for Soul Cadillac and ‘Ska Boy JFK’.
Heavier tracks filled the middle of the 30+ song set,’ God is a Spider’, ‘Pink Elephant’ and ‘The Mongoose & the Snake’ provided an opportunity for the guitars to be turned up, before the gradual ease back into the swing, and the good old crowd favorites.
‘Wingtips’ became ‘Brown Derby Jumps’, and just as the crowd could be forgiven thinking Steve couldn’t keep it up, he – along with everyone else in the room – almost hit the ceiling as the band began ‘Zoot Suit Riot’, before finishing it off with ‘Ding Dong Daddy of the D Car Line’. Yet they still managed an encore. Here’s hoping that there isn’t another 12 year wait to see them in Australia.
– Tanya Lumley