I have written quite a few times about Peter Holsapple and his fine combo, live review at (tinyurl.com/zubphc) and their recent Christmas residency at (tinyurl.com/zubphcguests). This is a tough, melodic band featuring Peter Holsapple, from the dB’s and unquestioningly one of the best songwriters in the game. (Our dB’s Podcast is at tinyurl.com/zubamplifier). Imagine my surprise, then, to see the e-mail announcing the Combo’s FINAL shows, at The White Mule in Columbia and then a couple of shows in Florida at the 30A Songwriters festival.
I think (I have no inside knowledge) that the Combo just couldn’t make ends meet, and that is a damn shame. I suspect Peter can probably do better financially just playing solo, but I’m not sure what happened here. I do know we have lost one of the best, most proficient bands in the South.
I took my pal Bob to the show and we were pleasantly surprised at The White Mule, more an ‘art space’ than club, it has a nice bar and ambience and a good stage and sound system. When the PHC took the stage, Peter was playing his Gibson Les Paul guitar, which was giving him a lot of tuning issues during the first two tunes, but he is a consummate professional and tuned-as-he-went.
By the third song, the band hit a groove with the pretty ‘Away With Love’ (as at the Christmas show, most of the set was made up from material from Peter’s Game Day solo record). He immediately went into the new ‘That Kind Of Guy,’ his love letter to record collectors. As I’ve said before, this is a wonderful and fun song that he needs to put out a recorded version as soon as possible (it is featured on the Amplifier EP: Live At Q Division).
Drummer Will Rigby and Peter have that we’ve-played-for-decades-together connection, and bassist Glenn Jones is always on top of it, with melodic playing, never showboating, adding the perfect high harmony vocals. Another highlight was the instrumental ‘pH Factor,’ a great surf/spy tribute, originally a dB’s b-side. Only playing a twelve song set, the Combo killed it with their version of ‘I Can’t Keep From Crying,’ Peter ripping into some very cool guitar soloing. The more than awesome dB’s ‘Amplifier’ followed, and I was completely surprised to hear them end the set with a fine version of the dB’s ‘Neverland.’ It was a fantastic show. My pal Bob was thrilled. I hope somehow Peter and the Combo don’t quit altogether. Peter’s world-class songwriting always shines, but never more radiantly than with this taut, simpatico trio. Surely, that can’t be over. We miss them already.