“Please don’t tell me everything is wonderful now.” This line from the chorus of Everclear’s 2000 hit “Wonderful” pithily sums up the band’s Saturday night performance at the Hard Rock Café on the Strip. While Art Alexakis and co. played pretty much all of their popular hits from the past 15 years, everything was not wonderful.
There was no hiding the fact that Alexakis’ voice has some miles on it and is, perhaps, a little worse for wear. After his 1999 throat surgery to remove nodes and an arduous touring schedule, his voice has simply changed. While never hailed for his particularly powerful voice, the Everclear frontman could definitely belt out his hits back in the ’90s and the earlier part of this decade.
The band’s new album, In a Different Light, features a majority of Everclear’s older hits stripped down to a more acoustic vibe. Since their tour of the same name was coming to town, many fans expected to hear the versions of the songs that were on new disc. Much to fans’ surprise, the concert showcased the rockier radio edits everyone knew and loved.
The only difference was in the quality of the vocals. Though the lead singer had just assured me a few days before the gig that his pipes were still more than functional, I just wasn’t feeling it.
“I’m 15 years older. My voice is deeper. I’ve had throat surgery for nodes. I can sing all the songs and it sounds like Everclear, “ Alexakis explained. “My voice is a little deeper, a little raspier. It is what it is. What I don’t have in range, I have in control over my voice.”
Alexakis did justice to “Wonderful,” which sounded the most like its original incarnation. Still, with Adrian Patrick and Jason Juadines of local band Otherwise to my left belting out the chorus at the top of their much younger lungs, it made me realize just how much a band’s sound can change with age.
Local Las Vegas Everclear fan Steve LaPorte said, “The new album is pretty much like MTV Unplugged, but a little more plugged.” He too expected to hear the more acoustic versions of the songs, but after the show concluded, “This is really a greatest hits tour; to remind people they’re still around, so they buy the new album.”
Following the show, Alexakis met with fans and signed copies of the band’s new disc. First in line for this meet and greet were Hans Hippert, attending his second Everclear show, and Suzette Balwing whom Hippert brought to her first show. Hippert agreed he had expected an acoustic show, but was pleasantly surprised by the more electric sound. “I’m a longtime fan, and it was great to hear ‘Wonderful’ again.”
As I left the HRC, blaring over the speakers outside the venue was “Father of Mine.” Alexakis’ strong vocals on the ’90s recording were a blunt juxtaposition to the live performance I had just heard, but his powerful lyrics rang true just the same.