The Gin Blossoms took their nostalgia tour to Houston on February 13, playing all of New Miserable Experience at the House of Blues.
Nostalgia tours span across rock music these days.
The mid-aughts Warped Tour set has seen an influx of anniversary tours. Say Anything has been binging and purging for almost a decade now, with Max Bemis touring behind music fans receive poorly and trips back to the ...Is a Real Boy-era well. Yellowcard went and celebrated the 10th anniversary of Ocean Avenue by recording an acoustic version.
Meanwhile, we’ve got Guns N’ Roses out here touring with something resembling an original line-up. Bruce Springsteen closed out the, uh, we’ll call charitably call it “storied” LA Sports Arena as part of his The River anniversary tour.
No matter how successful the band or record, these tours barely have a questionable shelf life outside of a certain bubble. Within that bubble, the fans to be serviced are going to be ecstatic.
It’s hard to review a show like this without essentially reviewing the album it’s based on, but the Gin Blossoms are playing with borderline iconic source material. New Miserable Experience is a beloved power pop album, even if it was not as genre-bending or critically acclaimed as other records of the early 90’s, like Nevermind or Blood Sugar Sex Magik.
Front man Robin Wilson sounded tremendous throughout the show, pulling off every note stuck in your head from “Hey Jealousy” as if it were still 1992. The phrase “it sounds just like the album” can sometimes be an insult in a live concert review, but that’s very much the M.O. for bands in this genre. The Gin Blossoms are right there.
The band feels like a complete unit, with the only line-up changes since 1992 coming behind the drum kit. Drummer Scott Hessel joined up in 2012, but he feels as much a part of things as guitarist and backing vocalist Jesse Valenzuala, the only original member of the group from their 1988 line up. They haven’t played New Miserable Experience end to end for decades, but they have played most of these songs dozens of times together.
The whole, well, experience of “Hey Jealousy” live is the nostalgia trip you expect. You feel every bit of reluctance on “Cheatin’.” From there, the Gin Blossoms launched into a series of fan favorites and covers, even poking a bit of fun at the exercise.
Wilson truly shines a frontman. He started the encore with a borderline heartwrenching acoustic rendition of “I Want it That Way.” It’s a good wink toward the idea that, for many, the band is a relic of the 90’s. If they’re going to be a relic, they’ll be a damn good one though.