Although I grew up as a child of the 70’s, I had never seen Starz live. These days it’s quite a rare occurrence, so I jumped at the chance upon hearing of their booking in Teaneck, NJ. Featuring 4/5 of the “Coliseum Rock” line-up (along with current bassist George DiAna in tow) Starz treated the packed house to a 2 ½ hour marathon set full of singles, deep album tracks and never before played b-sides. The audience gathered from far and wide (Nebraska! Ohio! Canada! England!) to get this rare glimpse of their underappreciated heroes. The band was in great spirits, and seemed to be having a blast performing together again. The chemistry shared between them is still apparent. Michael Lee Smith’s voice is in strong form, and the guitar duo of Ranno / Messano sounded as if they had never taken time off from each other.
And as a special bonus, long-lost 80’s recording artist and New Jersey native, Fiona opened up, playing her first gig in 7 years! Kicking off with “Kiss the Boys Goodbye” from her last, underrated album “Squeeze”, she looked and sounded terrific, enjoying herself on stage and engaging the crowd who gave her a resoundingly warm reception home. Guitarist Bobby Messano, working double duty this evening, led her band through the all too short set, comprised mostly of songs from her first two Atlantic albums, “Fiona” and “Beyond the Pale.” It seemed they were just getting into the swing of things when her show concluded, leaving everyone wanting more and anticipating a reprise in the not too distant future.
A great time was had by all, and it was wonderful catching up with friends old and new. Bobby Messano has a new “Live In Madison” CD out and Fiona tells us she’s interested in starting to play out more. Richie and the boys are always keeping busy, lately gigging with Richie Ranno’s All-Stars. You can keep tabs on all things STARZ by visiting www.starzcentral.com. Special thanks to Fiona, Bobby and Richie for their hospitality.