Urge Overkill Launches Submarine Tour at Troubadour

Urge Overkill appear to be on a mission to make sure they aren’t just known as the band that did a Neil Diamond cover on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. For starters, they’ve released a great album called Rock & Roll Submarine, their first in 16 years. Urge founders King Roeser and Nash Kato recruited a new rhythm section for the record, and Hadji Hodgkiss and Bonn Quast more than hold their own on bass and drums. It seems like the band has been resurrected with a new sense of purpose. Far from being a tired reunion act, the U.O. of 2011 is actually in better shape live than they were during the last days of their 1996 tour for previous album Exit the Dragon.

This was evident at the Troubadour last week. After solid opening sets by Roll the Tanks and Astronaut Academy, the revamped Urge took the stage and launched into the title track from Rock & Roll Submarine. A driving rocker distinguished by a cool echoing guitar lead, the song is as good as anything the band has done in the past. They followed this with another bold choice: “Mason/Dixon,” the first song on the new album. It was obvious this wasn’t a typical reunion act. Luckily, this crunching Civil War-era anthem also stands alongside their best material.

Having more than justified their rebirth, the band tore into the back catalog. This included fan favorites like “Back On Me,” “Erica Kane” and “Positive Bleeding” from Saturation, as well a couple of older classics like “Vacation in Tokyo” and “(Now That’s) The Barclords.” New songs “Effigy” and “Poison Flower” fit nicely with material from Exit the Dragon (“Take Me” and “Somebody Else’s Body”), showing that the band has pretty much picked up where they left off.

Dual front-men Roeser and Kato traded off vocals and riffs throughout the set, frequently grinning from ear to ear. They were obviously back in their element.

No one would doubt that Urge earned an encore that night. The presence of Tenacious D members in the crowd led us to assume we’d be hearing the cowbell-heavy sounds of “Sister Havana,” but instead we were treated to “Woman 2 Woman” and a scorching medley of “The Break” and “Stull Pt. 1.” Jack Black failed to join the band onstage like he did the last time they played the Troubadour in 2004. Few seemed to mind. We’d come there to see Urge Overkill, and they did not disappoint.

(Photo by Cecilia Orvis)

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