Donovan Frankenreiter earns his living as a professional surfer but for extra dough he moonlights as a rock star. So it’s not surprising his concert tours often visit beach resort destinations. However, he arrived in Salisbury Beach in the midst of an epic flat spell (surfing lingo for no rideable waves for a long time.) So you can’t be too jealous as it turns out he has problems just like the rest of us.
After greeting some audience members, taking pictures and signing autographs at the door Donovan and his four piece band (guitar, keys, bass and drums) opened with the slow groove of “Bend in the Road”. Donovan playing acoustic was dressed in signature tight jeans, silk, psychedelic shirt and an Indian themed hat. A three-quarter time “Life, Love and Laughter” drew approval of the sold-out, partisan crowd. For the most part his lyrics focus on self-empowerment and positivity, while his music offers a change from the now tired, tortured artist refrain.
Unlike the high production values of his studio work, Frankenreiter’s live show has a looser, garage band type feel. The band began to find it’s footing with “Your Heart,” while the funked up version of “Heading Home” with its strong harmonica solo finally had the band in full stride.
“Same Lullaby” and “West Coast Fool” from “Donovan’s superlative, 2012 release “Start Living” followed. “Lullaby” featuring an extended saxophone and banjo interlude was one of the more interesting songs of the evening, followed by “Fool” which was a quintessential three-minute pop song.
Being a hot, end of summer night, the bar was three deep all evening. The end result being both the band and the crowd getting looser as the show rolled on. Half-way through the show Donovan strapped on a left hand Stratocaster (which he played right handed) and tore through “Move By Yourself” and” That’s Too Bad” both of which featured scorching extended jam sections with Donovan on lead guitar.
The set closed with audience requests which resulted in heartfelt versions of “Call Me Papa” and “Dance Like No One Else is Watching.” The two were separated by a “Sweet Home Alabama” intro which Donovan was quick to state he was not playing.
The encores started with a simple but elegant, bluesy, acoustic version of “Swing On Down,” as the night ended with an extended version of the call and return of “It Don’t Matter.”
The band’s abilities and talents were sometimes lost when the show went from concert to almost campy, as at one point a birthday girl and her family were invited on stage to sing along. The “If it don’t matter” refrain went on for dozen’s of verses as various audience members were pulled up to sing along. But maybe DF figures music, like surfing, like life, doesn’t have to be all about business. And as shown by the satisfied sold-out audience last night, “if it don’t matter to you, it don’t matter to him.”
Photos by Marc Lacatell