Movie star Kevin Bacon and older brother Michael — The Bacon Brothers — headlined Thursday’s Alive at Five concert series.
While the two brothers started performing as a musical act 17 years and six albums ago, you still have to be skeptical of any celebrity playing rock star.
Backed by a full band, the songs were good: original blues-based rock with a polished, folky garage-band feel. Bacon played the cool leader who sang most of the tunes with a gritty, sincere voice that growled when he pushed. Would they headline such a venue if Bacon wasn’t a Hollywood star? No, but that didn’t matter. The place was packed, with an unusual number of women pushing up into the standing area in front of the stage. The musical bar was set low, and any decent music would do: it was a little more than decent and Bacon was entertaining to watch.
Singing “Go My Way” early on, a song about a bad day, Bacon told us, “Only thing that can turn a bad day around for a boy like me: a beautiful woman.”
He sang “Wild Life,” a rambunctious tune where he danced around just enough, shook his shoulders a bit and gave us his pseudo bad-boy grimace while singing the chorus.
When brother Michael sang, Bacon strummed an acoustic guitar aggressively — you couldn’t hear him though — played percussion, which you couldn’t hear either, and blew the harmonica occasionally, as in the tune “36 cents,” which sounded good here. Michael played cello through a few tunes before returning to play rhythm on electric guitar.
Bacon, 54, looked like he does on the movie screen. Wearing a white T-shirt and black jeans — not skin tight but just enough — he said, “It’s time to sweat,” working through the heat, like much of the crowd.
Extra attention was given to the women, dedicating a few songs to them, and complimenting how “good looking” the audience was. He sang a song for his wife, called “Kiki,” her nickname, telling us that he tells her all the songs are about her. Then came “I’m So Glad I’m Not Married,” a fun uptempo punkish tune. These satire tunes he was best at, like “Why Do New England Girls Love Florida.” These fit more than the hard rock stuff where Bacon seemed to be acting.
All in all, it wasn’t world-class music, like other acts in the series, but it was another fun free-music for Albany.
One of Alive at Five’s best qualities is exposing a general audience to local acts. The Capital Region isn’t rich in all lines of culture, but it is in local music. On Thursday, the Rensselaer County-based “Stray Dogs” opened the show. This is a tasteful cover band of mature fellows with seemingly no axe to grind but simply to get a summer groove going. They covered tunes with a soft, loose feel that included Peter Frampton’s “Show Me the Way,” the Police’s “So Lonely,” and Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry.”
While some moved faster than others, the feel was typically reggae-like and contained a skilled mandolin solo followed by a tenor sax solo, before returning to the verses. It was all good stuff, but didn’t rise enough to be more than the warm-up act. They might on other nights when they play the area, but not Thursday. If only they could get a front man with Bacon’s star power.