Tommy & The High Pilots / Wildlife @ the Firebird, St. Louis

Pictures and words by Duane Clawson
“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a real rock and roll show”.  This what I told Tom Cantillon, front man of Tommy & The High Pilots after a smoking set at the Firebird in St. Louis.  After seeing this band made me wonder what it was like to see great a band...before they were household names.  Names like Petty, U2, and Simon & Garfunkel; all of which have been covered by Tommy & THP.  This band has the whole package, from musicianship to charisma and Tommy is a perfect conductor for this four-piece band hailing from California.  

The band took off with “American Riviera”, a hard-driving rocker and the title song of one of their latest albums.  Three songs from the band's debut album, Every Night, were next including “Bluesy Floozie”, “Sun Burns Out”, and “Use Your Head”.  And as a lyric from “Use Your Head" declared, “oh, what a beautiful sound" and guess what, it was.  “Round and Round” kept the flow of the evening on track with its acoustic guitar driven, Irish-pub styled sing-a-long which included a great display of the band's youthful energy.  “On the Line” brought the tempo of the evening down just a notch and “Lorraine” quickly dispelled any notion that the band was slowing down.  Tommy then led the band into “I’ve Been Thinking” and “Riding on You”.  Up next were two songs that complimented each other very well. “Where to Start”, a song that defines that lost feeling we have all experienced from time to time paired perfectly with the band's rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Cecilia”.  I have to say whoever decides what songs the band will cover made a great call here.  Unfortunately, the night was winding down or so I thought from looking at the bands set list as there were only three songs remaining.  “Motorbike” and “The Limit” finished off the main set list and the band left the stage to towel off and listen for the calls of an encore as one might expect.  

Tommy and the band triumphantly returned to the stage to cover U2’s “Desire” where Tommy let all his attributes as a frontman shine as he fell to his knees, walked into the audience, and swung from the light rigging.  Every piece of the band's performance made a collective rock puzzle of a must-see band.  I also have to give Tommy high marks also for his marketing skills.  As soon as the band finished their set, Tommy spent little time making his way to the merchandise table as he sold, t-shirts, albums, posed for pictures, and signed autographs.  Make sure to check out Tommy & the High Pilots library which can be found on iTunes.  You can also find tour dates and other information at the band's website.

I also wanted to mention and give a big thank you to Canadian band Wildlife.  The band drove in from Kentucky to fill a last minute cancelation spot and as I talked to band's drummer, Dwayne Christie, he mentioned this was only their fourth show in the US.  The band played an excellent set with little to no time to prepare.  Standouts from the set were “Stand in the Water” and “Sea Dreamer”.  You can learn more about Wildlife at their website and their debut album Strike Hard, Young Diamond can found on iTunes

I'd like to thank the the Firebird for their hospitality, as always and would also like to thank Tommy and his management team for being so accommodating on short notice.  Pictures of the show are below:


Tommy & the High Pilots

Contributed by Duane Clawson
Tommy & The High Pilots / Wildlife @ the Firebird, St. Louis Tommy & The High Pilots / Wildlife @ the Firebird, St. Louis Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on June 07, 2011 Rating: 5
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