maximum rock - pop - dance
60s - 70s - 80s - 90s
live at PENANG LOUNGE 240 Columbus Ave at 71st street, NYC
Gordon Smith - synths, vocals; Robert Urban - guitars, vocals; Steve Sullivan - bass; Anthony Maulella - drumming
dancing with fans after the show
P.M. MAGAZINE REVIEW (click to read) by JED RYAN:
Don't miss this free show at Penang tomorrow! It's a four-hour wet dream marathon for lovers of '80's music! Plus, they serve great food! See ya there!
R.U.B. at PENANG LOUNGE! On Tuesday, Nov 14th, R.U.B. performed live at New York City's Penang Lounge for what the quartet promised to be four hours of "maximum 80s pop". Who are R.U.B? They are four experienced musicians, each of whom have gained a reputation in Gotham's independent music scene in their own right: Robert Urban on vocals and guitar, Gordon Smith of the electro-pop band Rubberlegs on vocals and synthesizer, Steve Sullivan on bass, and Anthony Maulella, also of Rubberlegs, on percussion.
Even though these four gents have worked with each other before in various collaborations, this was R.U.B.'s official debut performing as a band. Indeed, a Malaysian restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan may seem like an unusual place for a rock concert, especially a four-hour long musical marathon featuring such diverse musical offerings as Peter Gabriel's 1977 "Solsbury Hill" and the ultra-campy 1983 "Drop Your Pants" from one-hit, one-named wonder Hilary. But the venue works astonishingly well as a performance area, managing to be both grand and intimate at the same time. (Incidentally, when Gordon commanded, "Drop Your Pants", no one in the audience obeyed. Hey, this was the Upper West Side, not the Village!) Penang Lounge is bolstered by a hard-hitting sound system, hard working staff, and even harder-working musicians for this particular night. R.U.B. was matched by the reciprocal energy of the audience.
Robert Urban's voice is haunting and otherworldly, and that voice can hit some splendid high notes (shall we say, his voice knows how to "rise" to the musical occasion...). Gordon Smith's voice is patently distant and cool with an unquestionable underlying warmth and ingratiation. Smith, who has been making music since 1978, often incorporates 80's classics into his shows-- solo and with Rubberlegs-- while the oft-Award-winning Robert Urban counts the rock classics of the '70's and early '80's as a big influence on his original works. In Urban's words, "The 80's are the new classics anyway!" For those of us New Yorkers like myself who grew up with the renegade station WLIR, that's an understatement! Some of R.U.B's unearthed musical gems that night at Penang included the obscure Our Daughter's Wedding's 1980 "Lawnchairs" (one of the few songs from the '80's that luckily hasn't yet been exploited for a commercial for Wal-Mart or an outdoor furniture store ad, despite an advertising agency's likely temptation...) and an al l-out, no-holes barred rendition of "Money Changes Everything", written by Prince and performed by such icons as Cyndi Lauper, although it seems to have become a favorite song for reinterpretation by many independent musicians.
The cumulative result of R.U.B.'s talents and their selection of hit songs could best be described as an 80's music lover's rÍve humide (Although, to be completely accurate, there were a few songs from other decades as well!) These guys didn't waste any time. No sooner than you ordered your first Lychee Martini, R.U.B. opened with "Get It On (Bang-a-Gong"), a 1985 heavy hitter from The Power Station, (Interestingly, The Power Station were another four-man group made up of experienced musicians from different bands). Gordon then took the lead vocals with the quirky classic "Cars" (Gary Numan's 1979 sole hit, the one that goes, "Here in my car"... etc.). Gordon continued his somewhat distant vocal style and adopted a rare deep tone for Modern English's 1982 "Melt With You". When he declares, "I made a pilgrimage to save this human's race", we view the singer as something of an unorthodox messiah. Redeption through 80's music? Why not?! Then came a sexy version of Depeche Mode's 1994 "I Feel You", featuring a long, pounding instrumental musical interlude and a unique vocal styling by Urban; so many different meanings can be interpreted from the lyrics.
A lot of the artists that R.U.B spotlight in their show-- like Depeche Mode and other new wave bands-- relied heavily on elecronic trickery. (Anyone who's a fan of Rubberlegs, incidentally, will know that Gordon Smith has many electronic tricks under his size 31 belt, and Gordon brings these to the stage very well.) So, here's the essence of R.U.B: Robert Urban's organic guitar work and ethereal voice, combined with Gordon's talents behind the keyboards and equally unique vox, bring these decade-spanning hits to an entirely different level. R.U.B. can capture the fun spirit of early Depeche Mode with 1982's "Just Can't Get Enough", and equally do justice to the somber numbers of DM's later years, like "Stripped" from 1987 (The line "Let me see you make decisions without your televison" is more relevant than ever in 2006.).
R.U.B. is bolstered by the synergy between the four bandmates. Sullivan on bass offers some much-needed cool restraint, while Maulella shows one step from total abandon with his famous percussion. Speaking of energy, a real crowd-pleaser came with Devo's decadent 1980 hit "Whip It". After that was a cover of the Eurythmics' 1984 "Here Comes the Rain Again", with Urban's haunting vocals never sounding more tormented, and Gordon's synthesizer re-creating the song's titular raindrops (For Eurythmics fans, the band did perform "Sweet Dreams" later on in the night as well!). Then came one of The Cars' most famous party songs, "Let's Go (I Like the Nightlife)", from 1979, and a stripped-down, haunted version of the Psychedelic Furs' (Remember them?) 1982 "Love My Way" featuring some exquisite synth work. Urban then went solo with The Beatles' 1969 "It's All Too Much", from the legendary "The Yellow Submarine" album, and then delivered an exceptionally poignant "Solsbury Hill". Gordon took the vocal lead with New Zealand band Split Enz' 1980 it "I Got You"( "I don't know why sometimes I get frightened. You can see my eyes, you can tell that I'm not lyin'"), a song well-matched to his vocal abilities, and The Monroes' sole 1980 hit "What Do all the People Know?" ("Could you be the one I'm thinking of? Could you be the girl I really love? All the people tell me so, But what do all the people know?") The audience was also treated to an emblematic original Rubberlegs song, "The Timinator"-- the best song from the 80's that was recorded in 2005! After a brief intermission, R.U.B. returned for more hits. To again demonstrate the range of the music that night, two performances included Elton John's 1974 "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," and one-hit wonder Soft Cell's 1981 "Tainted Love". Another real musical curio came with Thomas Dolby's 1983 "She Blinded Me with Science", the ultimate '80's video game geek-chic anthem, with Gordon providing lead vocals and Robert gleefully providing the intermittent declaration "Science!" One of the most priceless moments of the night was Smith belting out the famous lyrics of The Violent Femmes' 1982 punk classic "Blister in the Sun": "When I'm a walking, I strut my stuff, then I'm so strung out; I'm high as a kite, I just might, stop to check you out... Let me go on, like a blister in the sun; Let me go on, big hands I know you're the one!".
Clearly, anyone coming into Penang Lounge that night who may have harbored some of New York City's contagious restlessness (sexual or otherwise), like the hero of the song, definitely left feeling more "high as a kite" than "strung out" after this show. R.U.B.'s energy is indeed contagious! So many hits, so little time-- even with four hours! R.U.B. performs again at Penang Lounge on Tuesdays, December 19th, January 16th, and January 30, 2007. Penang is located at 240 Columbus Ave. at 71st St., Call (212) 769-3988 or check out www.PenangUSA.com for their menu and more info. Also check out: www.RobertUrban.com www.Rubberlegs.com Jed Ryan PM Entertainment Magazine www.JedRyan.com
R.U.B. Performs live!
Tuesday Nov. 14th - 8pm to midnight and
Tuesday Dec. 19th - 8pm to midnight at:
T. Rex - Depeche Mode - Cyndi Lauper - Eurythmics - Cars - Devo - Rolling Stones - Split Enz - Modern English - Police - Psychedelic Furs - Thomas Dolby - Peter Gabriel - Smiths - Monroes - Alison Moyet - Led Zeppein - The Who - Beatles - Violent Femmes - Soft Cell - Gary Numan - The Smiths and more!
R.U.B. Contact & Bookings: Urban Productions 212-932-1044 - email@example.com
Return to Homepage More Concerts