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Blue Oyster Cult/Eclectic Nobody's/Crucible/Z Plan-Live at Toad's Place, New Haven, CT on October 16, 1998.

Iím not usually a fan of the 4-band show format (that club owners like so much because they can keep people drinking for three hours before the headliners even take the stage) because itís too long and one dud among the openers can really make the evening seem endless. Tonight was an exception to the rule. Tonight all four bands combined to make this show great.

First up was Z Plan. A Connecticut group with one CD out and a second already in the works. Surprisingly, this was only the bandís second live performance. Their sound would best be described as mainstream rock and as one might have expected they do have a few rough edges to work out in the live presentation. Nonetheless, these guys were good and showed a lot of potential. They were obviously enjoying themselves onstage and were well received by the crowd, most of whom had never heard of them before. I saw this set as a spark, one that I look forward to seeing fully ignite in the future.

Crucible, one of my favorites (see several other reviews posted here), was up next. This was the bandís first performance with new bassist Chris Vescera, who had managed the band up to this point. They had taken several weeks off from their performance schedule to rehearse with Chris and tonightís set proved that it was time well spent. The band seemed even tighter than usual, which really is saying a lot for these guys. They charged through roughly 45 minutes of the best original progressive rock in Connecticut. The band has now played Toadís several times and is obviously building a following. A "Crucible" chant, several people strong, even erupted from the crowd as they took the stage. Their set included selections from their debut CD, "Tall Tales" as well as one new song. Highlights tonight included "Lords And Leeches", "Over The Falls", and the new song "Worldís Apart."

Next onstage was Eclectic Nobodyís, a local offering in the modern rock genre. A song called "Jokeís On Me", about the third song of their set, erupted into absolute rock and roll fury and was definitely the highlight here. On that song, frantic drumming clashed head on with screaming guitar and throbbing bass to produce a few short minutes of pure energy. The only problem is that after it had passed the band retreated into the standard modern rock mold and seemed to hover there for the remainder of their set. They were entertaining but having their set climax so early made the rest of it seem lesser than it really was. Thereís a lot to be said for pacing the show right.

Blue Oyster Cult, approaching their third decade in the music business, still commands a dedicated following who methodically pull out those old concert shirts from the bandís 70ís and 80ís heydays. I know of what I speak because, although it no longer fits, thereís a shirt from the 1980 tour somewhere in my closet too. The lasers, light shows, and giant Godzillas are gone now, and thereís new faces on drums and bass, but the music is just as vital as it ever was. The band took the stage and launched into "Burniní For You", one of their biggest hits, and any sense of time was immediately lost. It was 1981again and this was a jam-packed New Haven Coliseum. They roared through "Cities On Flame", "E.T.I.", "Buckís Boogie", and "Take Me Away." The band was great, the crowd was excited, and both enjoyed their short detour through the time tunnel. BOC also threw in some selections from their latest offering, "Heaven Forbid", but the sound is so reminiscent of the earlier stuff that it just doesnít stand out. Whether itís a new track like "Harvest Moon" or an old classic like "Donít Fear The Reaper", Buck Dharmaís guitar is Buck Dharmaís guitar, period. Iíve seen the cult many times, and hope to see them many more, but letís face it no matter what I say it is still a trip through the time tunnel. Itís fun and itís enjoyable but it will never be 1981 again. The voices may be a little hoarser and the faces are a bit older but Buckís guitar hasnít changed at all. Blue Oyster Cult is still a force to be reckoned with.