York and Bailey complimented each other nicely and took turns delivering scorching solos. Not only is Pagano the leader of the band by virtue of handling the vocals, but his style of drumming can best be described as “lead drums” thanks to the aggressive fills he lays down. Despite the limited number of gigs this ensemble has played they certainly sounded as if they’ve been performing together for years.
Early on in the show Pagano mentioned that he didn’t expect to bring his tunes into the live setting and did so in part because the guys in the band talked him into it. While there’s plenty of production on the album songs such as Goodbye Anna, Drips Into The River and Victory Parade 1991 sounded vital and fresh on stage, proving that the members of the band had the right idea.
The highlight of the hour-long set came towards the end when the quintet performed a song that Pagano mentioned had “reached #148 on the Public Radio Charts” – You Want to Stay High. The nimble drummer also mentioned that Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio contributed to the album version of this tune about “someone who wants to get high too much” but made specific mention that the clean and sober Anastasio was not the subject of the composition. Not only did the live version of You Want to Stay High thrive from Pagano’s emotional vocal delivery it was punctuated by an incendiary guitar solo from Andy York that left the jaws of attendees on the floor.
While Pagano and the sugarCane cups stuck to originals for the set, Rich introduced the encore as a song by one of the main influences on the album. With that, the band launched into a powerful version of John Lennon’s Mother that sent everyone home satiated after a fantastic evening of music. Speaking of covers, Rich Pagano + the sugarCane cups will perform a number of covers from artists who influenced the record’s songwriting – along with plenty of tracks from the LP – on Friday night at Mirelle’s in Westbury, NY on Long Island.