Mother’s Finest – Live Review

Written by on April 15, 2010 in April 15, 2010, Live Reviews - 1 Comment

Amos’s Southend – Charlotte, NC

Mothers FinestThe story is an old one… probably one of the most common in rock and roll… the amazing band that few have heard of… and the mystery remains as to why? When you have a dedicated fan base, 30+ years in the music business and a unique sound there never is an easy explanation as to why Taylor Swift is selling millions of cds and a band like Mothers Finest is one of the best kept secrets in rock illustrated by their recent stop stateside last month at Amos’s Southend in Charlotte, NC.

Before we dive into the review, MF’s history deserves a quick perusal because the very thing that makes MF work is most likely the same reason why mainstream radio and record companies scratch their heads-perplexed as to what to do with an “interracial” rock group from the South that plays everything from funk, soul to metal.

The music of Mother’s Finest is a spectacular blend of funky rhythms, heavy guitars and expressive R&B singing from the unstoppable Joyce Kennedy better known as Baby Jean. Mother’s Finest is equally known not only for their matchless sound but their notoriety in a business that leans toward cookie cutter vanilla output. For example, their debut album Mother’s Finest from 1976 today is a rare collector’s piece and contained the ironic song “Nigizz Can’t Sing Rock’n Roll” (although they were criticized for it by an important religious leader and dropped it from their live concerts).

In the summer of 1977, they opened for The Who in their laser lit tour through Canada. Granted this was certainly an unusual choice of opening acts, but they impressed with their performance and choreographed stage show. Following that musical coup d’etat in 1978 they were guests in the German broadcast Rockpalast and with one concert they gathered a cult status in Europe which lasts until today.

Mothers FinestIn the late seventies they continued to produce more soul and funk-oriented albums and at the beginning of the eighties some heavy rock as heard on Iron Age. In the nineties they were back with Black radio Won’t Play This Record, an unusual blend of funk metal. Clearly, Mother’s Finest hasn’t been afraid to push musical boundaries and at the end of the day that has probably been their cornerstone and their bailiwick.

Through it all, Mother’s Finest has remained well respected within the southern rock musical community and by their fans who have in a Grateful Dead-like kind of devotion, will catch a show whenever they can.

Their recent show in Charlotte, NC didn’t fail to disappoint. With an extensive discography and spot on show, Mother’s Finest knows how to thrill their fans time and time again.

As with any band that has more than a couple of decades under their belt, it’s always a challenge to juggle the hit songs with new material in a way that satisfies the entire crowd but Mother’s Finest has that formula patented.

Their show is all about high energy, good vibes and delivery on a dime. Crowd favorites like “Baby Love” (introduced with a reggae spin), “Thank You For the Love”, “Mickeys Monkey” and the “Truth Will Set You Free” were played with perfect precision and just at the moment when the crowd wanted to hear a “MF Standard”.

Guitarist John Hayes who joined the band in the 90’s produced some of his best guitar lead work in the show… demonstrating that it’s that special fire and passion that sparks a great axe man. Wyzard on bass was also clearly channeling some of his best funk rhythms and managed to make a bass solo sound like a symphony of sound.

“Baby Jean” was also on top of her game vocally… and there’s a reason why Miles Davis once cited her as one of his favorite vocalists… she’s sassy, soulful, spunky and a powerhouse performer.

With a crowd demanding an encore, it was clear to see that Mother’s Finest had “brought it home” once again and the best part is that new and old fans alike know they always will.

5 Stars