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Caught in the act: Austin music
by Michael MacCambridge
Austin American Statesman; Austin, Tex.; Jan 21, 1989

Ronnie Lane Band

The effects of multiple sclerosis are such that Ronnie Lane must be wheeled on stage by his wife, Susan, and lifted into his chair front and center.

But the disease that has ravaged Lane's body hasn't debilitated his spirit, which continues to shine brightly as evidenced by a fine performance Saturday night at the Continental Club.

With an expert band behind him that includes ex-Grains of Faith, current Poi Dog Pondering violinist Susan Voelz, accordion/guitarist Randy Banks, guitarist Rich Brotherton (who occasionally chimes in with mandolin), bassist Ronnie Johnson and drummer Darin Hess, Lane continues to have some of Austin's finest musicians backing him.

On this night, he again opened and closed the set with what has become his anthem, the Faces' wry Ooh La La. The song's heartbreaking line ("I wish that I knew what I know now/ When I was stronger") continues to resonate through Lane's work, but rather than shrink from its obvious irony, he has embraced it, with an enthusiasm and unblinking sincerity that runs through all of his singing.

While Lane is physically frail, his voice is still strong. He dueled nicely with Banks' accordion on Rio Grande and gave a powerful reading of Nowhere to Run.

And, on this night, the crowd was fully appreciative. Through Barcelona and There Ain't No Winnin' With Women, as Lane got visibly weaker, the audience's support grew stronger. By the time he hit the penultimate April Skies, many were standing in applause at the end of the numbers.

After the set - which ended with rousing applause - Lane was about to be lifted off the stage when another round of cheering went up for a final song. The band played a new one - Sally Ann - which might match Ooh La La in tragic irony ("By and by... nothing is sweeter than to die").

It was nice to see Ronnie Lane - an underrated musician even when he was with the Faces - being treated with such reverance by a full house (the last time I'd seen him was at a Quake, Rattle and Roll benefit with about 12 people at Liberty Lunch).

Austin is blessed to have him; for the rest of the rock world, the proper appreciation probably won't come for a few more years, until the Faces are eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Once Ronnie gets his due, Ooh La La will sound even sweeter. But Austinites needn't wait 'til then; the Ronnie Lane Band is a treat right now.- Michael MacCambridge

 

 

 


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