The Upstate Beat: Tusk to recreate legend of Fleetwood Mac; Figgs celebrate new album

Albany glam-punk group Haunted Cat returns to the stage for a free show Thursday night (Nov. 17) at No Fun in Troy. (Andrew Scullin)
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Albany glam-punk group Haunted Cat returns to the stage for a free show Thursday night (Nov. 17) at No Fun in Troy. (Andrew Scullin)

UPSTATE BEAT – Although initially regarded as a commercial failure, the sprawling 1979 “Tusk” double album by Fleetwood Mac, an experimental pastiche of pop art that sounded nothing like their previous smash album, “Rumours,” eventually came to be viewed as a rock and roll classic.

So, it’s interesting that Tusk is also the name of the world’s leading Fleetwood Mac tribute act, signifying, perhaps, that the group has an expansive view of what constitutes a Fleetwood Mac hit. Find out on Friday at the Egg Center for the Performing Arts (Empire State Plaza, Albany) when the five musicians in Tusk recreate the music of Fleetwood Mac with faithful note-for-note renditions.

Tusk vocalist Kathy Phillips embodies the role of front woman Stevie Nicks — adopting her throaty voice, forceful demeanor, flowing clothing and distinctive stage presence – while guitarist and vocalist Scott McDonald recreates the rhythmic guitar style of Lindsey Buckingham, one of McDonald’s earliest influences.

Of course, the last time that the real Fleetwood Mac played in Albany, a 2018 arena show at the then-Times Union Center, Fleetwood Mac had just dismissed Buckingham due to personal differences, replacing him with Mike Campbell from the Heartbreakers. Now can Tusk replicate that drama? We’ll find out!

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Figgs celebrate new album with local Holiday Show on Friday

Earlier this year, The Figgs released a new album, “Chemical Shake,” along with a video for the single, “Cataract.” Unbelievably, the new album is the sixteenth (but we’ve lost count) for the rock and roll mainstays, who formed in Saratoga Springs in 1987.

“It’s been feeling good, being back playing this last year,” says Figgs co-founder and bassist Pete Donnelly, a Saratoga Springs native. “I think there’s still a bit of catching up to do, with all the pent-up energy we collected through the pandemic. We made this record, ‘Chemical Shake,’ pretty quickly, which was nice. But we’ve already gotten into new songs.”

The Figgs bring their vaunted holiday-season show – and celebration of the “Chemical Shake” release – to the Hangar on the Hudson (675 River St., Troy) on Friday, Nov. 18 at 8 p.m. The Figgs holiday show is an annual Capital Region tradition.

“Music is real joy,” says Donnelly. “I think you can expect that we will attempt to summon joy by performing our songs and choice covers. And you know it’s never really paint-by-numbers with us. Every song lives differently every day. We try to make a journey through our past and present records to see what we can discover every time we get onstage. It is almost Christmastime, so we’re bound to pull out some holiday cuts — maybe some that we haven’t done in recent years.”

Although they’ve been together for 35 years, giving band members an uncanny musical simpatico that makes their onstage alchemy so enjoyable, the Figgs have never stopped evolving musically. They retain their scrappy pop-punk roots but have stretched out into more complex territory that encompasses sprawling rock to melodic pop.

“I always have this sinking feeling before we do shows that no one will appreciate what we’re doing, and that our music doesn’t provide the life that I so want it to possess,” Donnelly says. “But then we get on stage, and the world turns, and we wring out every bit of spirit we can muster from our instruments and songs, and it’s usually a darn good time for all. That’s all we ever want.”

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Albany’s Haunted Cat Taking a break from recording to play free show

Promising weird and wild stuff, Albany glam-punk group Haunted Cat returns to the stage for a free show tonight at No Fun (275 River St, Troy). Joining the group is Film & Gender, from western Massachusetts, and Eric-jon Tasker — formerly of Boston and Saratoga Springs — who for his Troy debut has assembled an unexpected band of great local musicians.
Led by frontman Drew Benton, Haunted Cat melds glam rock with an always-entertaining theatrical presentation. “Although we’ve been in the studio working on our new album, and I spent most of October portraying the titular role in the Rocky Horror Show, I’m looking forward to just being onstage again with the band performing our material,” says Benton.

The Week Ahead

— Original KISS lead guitarist Ace Frehley, aka the Spaceman, left the band first in 1982 and then again in 2002 for his solo career, but the legendary hard rock guitarist put his imprint on many classic KISS tunes. Frehley comes to the Strand Theatre (210 Main St., Hudson Falls) today at 8 p.m.
— The holiday shows are here. Classically trained hip-hop duo Black Violin comes to Proctors on Friday with the Give Thanks Holiday Tour, featuring holiday favorites from their “Give Thanks” album with themes of gratitude and giving back. Expect infectious energy, songs veering from classical to pop, and deft interplay between Kev Marcus on violin and Will B. on viola. 8 p.m.
— Inspired by the long-running Beatlemore Skidmania concerts at Skidmore College, Skidmania ‘72 is a reboot that celebrates popular songs from 50 years ago, which sounds so long ago but represents many artists still relevant today, including Stevie Wonder, Carly Simon and Led Zeppelin. The tunes will be recreated by nearly 100 Skidmore student musicians at Arthur Zankel Music Center (815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs) this Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.
— South Philadelphia native Chubby Checker inspired a dance craze revolution in 1960 with his number-one hit “The Twist,” which introduced the concept of couples dancing apart to the beat. Surely, his more mobile fans at Proctors 432 State St., Schenectady) will be up and dancing in the aisles when Checker co-headlines on Saturday with The Doo Wop Project, a supergroup made up of five Broadway stars from hit shows like “Jersey Boys” and “Motown: The Musical.” 7 p.m.

Reach Kirsten Ferguson at [email protected]

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Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts, Life and Arts

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