Check out this live headlining performance in front of a sold out crowd at the Legendary Paradise Rock Club in Boston, MA. This album portrays the captivating, high energy, good times vibe that has taken this band to the top of the charts New England.
Here is a review of the Michael Bernier & The UPRISING performance on January 29, 2010 at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston, MA. More information on Michael Bernier and The UPRISING band at www.MichaelBernierAndTheUPRISING.com
- Boston, MA 1/29/10
The winter slate at Paradise ended with a bash featuring one up-and-coming New England band on January 29, 2010…Michael Bernier & The UPRISING. Michael and the boys, (and girl) knocked them down with a set that felt more like a celebration than a hard-polished recital – natural and jubilant, with plenty of smiles, dancing and no inhibitions within a 12-bar radius. In essence, it was a we are here now party for the group and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there were members of Boston’s deaf community who came out and paid to see Michael Bernier and the Uprising. Whether he was strumming his acoustic while bugging his eyes a country mile out from his head, tapping out tribal grooves on his djembe drum with a grin as wide as the Grand Canyon, or just dancing, barefoot, around the stage, Bernier was impossible to ignore. His overjoyed presence set the tone for both the audience and his bandmates, who laughed and danced like preschoolers at recess whenever they weren’t busy with their instruments.
The Uprising, in their current formation, have yet to release a recording, though they are in the process of making a full-length at Chill House Studios in Charlestown due out Octber 30th, 2010. There are earlier, stripped-down versions of some of the songs they performed on the web (myspace.com/michaelbernier
), but judging from those efforts and what was presented at the Paradise, the songs have transformed as the band has grown, incorporating ideas and styles of those that have joined the band.
The original core (Michael Bernier on acoustic guitar, his big brother, Ryan on bass and Mark Fiorentini on drums) formed about four years ago, jamming on conscious reggae and roots rock tunes that Bernier has composed over the last decade. Eventually Brian “Whitewall” Wall joined the group and juiced up the songs with his high-voltage lead guitarwork. Last year, the band welcomed Kate Berlent on saxophone, which Bernier says has “added a classiness and intelligent side” to the Uprising. A little bit of Bob Marley, Adam Duritz and Jack Johnson still emits from the soul of each tune, but the band’s improved vamping capabilities allow the Uprising to incorporate the boisterous elation of the E Street Band, the familial intimacy of the Flecktones and even the prog-rock innovation of the Jeff Beck Group into their sound.
Berlent’s versatility and power on the horn were on full display at the Paradise. On some songs, she and Wall synced up with jazzy melodies in a call-and-response sequence with Bernier’s vocal lines. On the more steady-paced rockers, she unleashed soaring, colossal notes like Clarence Clemons in a little black cocktail dress (and I sincerely apologize for putting that image in your head). Having players with starkly different musical backgrounds goes a long way towards setting the Uprising apart from the other roots/reggae acts led by soulful, shoeless troubadours that pop up from time to time. Berlent is a prime example of this, as is Fiorentini, a confessed metalhead whose frantic fills and sudden pauses lend a cinematic quality to each song. When he changes beats or kicks a song into the chorus, you get the sense that something important (and, possibly, cataclysmic) has happened.
The band’s goofy exuberance belies a somber intensity at the heart of Bernier’s songs – and in his voice. A breathy desperation pours out from virtually every syllable that he sings. His lyrics – which bare an obsessive focus on peace, unity, salvation and other vagabond favorites – and the voice that conveys them are the product of years of travel, songmaking and, presumably, soul searching in remote parts of Costa Rica, the West Indies, Belize, Europe, and the isle of Molokai. Such an up-close and highly personal encounter with a man’s unmasked appetite for redemption and various kinds of love can be jarring, even a little off-putting to those who go to concerts to relax, unwind and punish their eardrums. But you don’t have to be glutton for catharsis to feel like you belong at a Michael Bernier & the Uprising concert. World salvation is a tall order, but one thing Bernier can promise to all in attendance is an ecstatic atmosphere, a max-energy performance and the inner peace of money well spent.
“Everybody here is very positive,” Bernier said after the show. “We all respect each other so much. There are layers on layers of love. We call it organic rock n’ roll. We know it’s a really good time for us, and we try to get that across to everybody.”