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10,000 Maniacs/Kami Lyle live on Sept. 14, 1997 at Toad's Place, New Haven, CT

This show began with a jazzy set by Kami Lyle, who sings, plays keyboards, and trumpet. She was accompanied by guitar and bass and was well received by the small crowd.

The Maniacs took the stage and were loudly greeted by a small, but dedicated crowd of around 300. The entire band sounded great and seemed genuinely excited, even though the size of the crowd had to be dissappointing. They charged through most of the new album "Love Among The Ruins", a few older 10KM selections, and the John And Mary tune "Angels Of Stone." This is a band that hasn't gotten much credit for their sound, as they were usually overshadowed by the charisma of former lead vocalist Natalie Merchant. Times have changed, Natalie's gone solo, a few years have passed, and it's time to put up or shut up. Jerry Augustyniak pounded his drums with the confidence of the seasoned veteran that he is. Robert Buck seems to enjoy the newfound freedom that allows his historically under-rated guitar work to finally shine. Steve Gustafson, John Lombardo, and Dennis Drew seem absolutely elated that 10KM is not only still alive but actually enjoying the success of having a song on the charts again. That feeling of redemption is very hard to fake and the feeling of their performances immediately removes any doubts that their critics may have had. Mary Ramsey, who joined the band soon after Natalie's departure, has nothing left to prove to the band's fans. Her voice, which has successfully jelled with the band's sound since the "Unscathed" tour, is absolutely stellar now. Her delivery of both the new songs, and the Maniac classics, left nothing to be desired. Her instrumental prowess was also center stage tonight. She worked a violin solo, which included a rendition of "Ashokan Farewell" (from the PBS Civil War Series), into the introduction of the Bruce Springsteen/Patti Smith song "Because The Night". Mary also showed some humor in her stage presence by stopping to correct a printed mistake by a local music critic, who obviously had some crossed wires. The entire band seems so much more relaxed now, freely moving around the stage and interacting with the audience. As a longtime fan, my only complaint is that the band is doing almost exactly the same set every night. Tonight's setlist was actually the same as the one used two days ago, it was even dated 9/12! The only time they strayed from it was to perform a remix version of "More Than This" during the encore. Granted it's a small gripe but I think there's too much potential here to play it safe. C'mon guys, and Mary, give yourselves the credit you deserve and break free more often. Your fans believe in you, we're standing by you, and we're waiting, take some chances. Don't misunderstand, the show was excellent, but I expected that.