Very few bands can claim Jackie DeShannon and John Peel as fans. Fewer still can get away with their credibility intact after supplying music for both Diet Coke and Budweiser commercials. But the Detroit Cobras are nothing if not anomalous.
In a musical universe that prizes originality over personality, the Cobras flip the script, stamping their unique identity all over the back pages of the Great American Songbook. Songs by well-known if neglected songwriters like Hank Ballard, Allen Toussaint, Bobby Womack and many others are resuscitated alongside the works of much more obscure artists. But just like Frank Sinatra wasn't a "Sammy Cahn tribute act," the Cobras are far from being academic reproducers of some bygone soundtrack.
Their splatter-groove take on these great songs makes it seem like this material was crafted with the Cobras in mind, and the sweaty intensity with which they scream and shout their way through a set makes it clear that they're feeling it deeply. It's doubtful that Hank Ballard ever pictured a white girl leading a crew of raggedy 21st-century Detroit rockers through "Cha Cha Twist," but you can bet he'd be happier about that than he was about Chubby Checker doing "The Twist."
Getting the crowd warmed up with their own take on retro-howl will be The Reigning Sound (soulful rockabilly from Memphis), local punks The Country Slashers and the reincarnation of glam-bangers Fantasie as Sunshine Artillery.
The Detroit Cobras
with The Reigning Sound, The Country Slashers, Sunshine Artillery
Friday, Oct. 21
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