“Unless I’m crazy, we played this song the last time we were here,” singer/songwriter Jakob Dylan told a packed audience mid-show at the Henry Fonda Theatre.
With that, Dylan’s freshly reunited band, the Wallflowers, plunged into the band’s biggest hit to date, the haunting, galloping, Grammy-winner “One Headlight.”
In support of “Glad All Over,” their just-released first album in seven years, the Wallflowers enthusiastically ripped through a Fonda Theatre concert on Oct. 9 with the ferocity of a band still hungry to succeed.
For the Wallflowers, whose current lineup is comprised of founding members Dylan, bassist Greg Richling and keyboardist Rami Jaffee, along with guitarist Stuart Mathis and new member Jack Irons (drums), previously of Pearl Jam, playing at the Hollywood Boulevard theater was very much a homecoming show following a lengthy hiatus.
As Richling later told the Journal, the band nearly played the entire new album that night, from “It’s a Dream” and “The Devil’s Waltz” to energetic “Glad” lead single “Reboot the Mission” (minus the chorus supplied on the recorded version by Mick Jones of the Clash fame).
Naturally, the Wallflowers served up a healthy heaping of comfort-food tracks from their biggest album, the 1996 multi-platinum release, “Bringing Down the Horse,” bringing down the house with “Sixth Avenue Heartache” and crooning through the bittersweet “Three Marlenas.”
At one point, Dylan directed the audience to “the Godfather of Fairfax Village,” as the wiry, limber Jaffee, a few killed Corona bottles atop his organ set-up, genuflected wildly, kicking the air behind him while delving into a lush solo jam, which included a brief run of the accordion.
Dylan also asked the energetic crowd to embrace “one of your hometown heroes, it’s Jack Irons!”
Indeed, the drummer, a Fairfax High School alumnus older than Jaffee, has long been connected to the L.A. scene as a founding member of Red Hot Chili Peppers, back in the ’80s when the “Fax City Four” was just a raunchy alternative band with a cult following.
There was a hamisch element to the Wallflowers’ show, as Jaffee interacted with his own little cheering section of friends filling the left side of the stage he occupied while Dylan tipped his fedora to a woman named Ivy in the crowd who, back in the day, had donated her garage, “somewhere above the Sunset Strip,” for the Americana band to practice in. The Wallflowers culminated their Tuesday night set with a confident, pounding rendition of another “Horse” rocker, “The Difference.”
Post-concert, at a private rooftop gathering at the Fonda, about 40 people socialized over cigarettes and Red Bull cocktails. With a giant neon red “W” on the hotel down the block looming over the Wallflowers’ party, members Jaffee and Richling mingled with friends, including “Kill Bill” actress Daryl Hannah (who has been romantically linked to Jaffee).
In good spirits, Jaffee expressed his satisfaction with the night’s concert and looked forward to upcoming performances in Mexico City and on the talk show “Ellen.”
Richling explained he was the reason Irons joined Wallflowers. After meeting via a mutual friend, the pair, with singer John Green, played the Viper Room and recorded an as-of-yet-unreleased album (due following the Wallflowers tour cycle) under the name Arthur Channel in 2011. When scheduling conflicts prevented their drummer from returning, the band inducted Irons into its roots rock fold.
“This is my favorite line-up we’ve had,” Richling told the Journal. The bassist and Dylan have been close friends since their days attending Windward High School in Mar Vista. Richley, who belonged to Temple Isaiah and Wilshire Boulevard Temple growing up, mused about how the bass line he had recorded on his iPhone at his Westwood dining room table, inspired by the Clash’s “Magnificent Seven” off their genre-exploring opus, “Sandinista,” had morphed into “Glad All Over’s” lead single, complete with Jones’ vocals. The Wallflowers had sent the former Clash front man two tracks, “Reboot the Mission” and “Misfits & Lovers,” “so that he’d have his choice of songs to play on.” To the band’s delight, Jones decided to grace both cuts with his vocals and guitar.
Which begged the question: With the Wallflowers soon to tour European stages, will Jones jam with the group on the pair of “Glad” tunes when they perform in England?
“We’re going to invite him and if he’s up for it,” Richling said, smiling.
To paraphrase a David Bowie song the Wallflowers famously covered, the vibe at the Fonda last Tuesday may have gone something like “We could be hometown heroes.”
“It’s been a long time since we played here,” Dylan said during the concert, half-joking, “We just took a seven-year encore and we’re back.”