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Kimberly Perry explained how she and her two brothers use music to cope with—and comment upon—modern life during the trio’s Saturday night (May 6, 2017) concert at the Hard Rock in Northfield, Ohio.

“We don’t talk much,” she said.  “Instead, we grab these three instruments right here and sing together.”

The Band Perry was at its best (and most authentic) when the sibs employed said instruments (mandolin, acoustic guitar, and electric bass) and eschewed electronic enhancements, blending their voices over sparse but heartfelt rhythms.  Kim wasn’t off the mark when she said the intimacy made it feel like she and her brothers were playing in their onlookers’ shared living room.

But the show started like a nightclub dance party, with sister and brothers emerging through dense fog to the sound of big beats and noisy effects.  They could hardly be seen through the vapor, their forms silhouetted by stage lights on kinetic opening numbers “Better Dig Two” and “Chainsaw.” 

Visibility improved during “You Lie,” with the youngsters prancing to “You Lie” and posing for spectator’s cellphone cameras.  Brothers Reid and Neil (the youngest Perry) gave the tune a hip-hop makeover by triggering sharp snare hits and electronic blips and bleats on a couple percussion pads while older sister Kim assumed command with a handheld microphone.  Weaving a few measures of Dolly Parton / Whitney Houston hit “I Will Always Love You” at the end of “All Your Life” was a clever move—and one that effectively showcased Kim’s dynamic vocal range. 

A mashup medley featuring Eurythmics (“Sweet Dreams”), Gnarls Barkley (“Crazy”) and Justin Timberlake (“Bringing Sexy Back”) elevated pulse rates.  2016 single “Comeback Kid” maintained the heightened mood, and cheerleader-like “In It Together” kept the beats coming.

Kimberly—now a brunette (“I have bangs!”)—wore a midriff-baring mesh top over a black denim skirt with a deliberate tear down the middle that—when lit from the back—made it look like she was wearing bell-bottoms.  To her right, “baby brother” Neil (in an oversize grey shirt, ripped jeans and black ball cap) tickled the strings of an electric guitar and mandolin.  On the opposite end, hunky Reid (clad in all black with long hair secured in a “man bun”) thumped a Fender electric bass.

Yes, the Perrys look different than the eager upstarts they were when they broke out of Greenville, Tennessee nearly a decade ago.  But after producing two successful country albums for the Big Machine label and years of rigorous touring in support of bona-fide superstars (Reba McIntyre, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Blake Shelton) they’ve earned the right to spread their wings.  Last year they jumped to Jimmy Iovine’s Interscope Records, with whom they’ll release their forthcoming third long-player, My Bad Imagination.

“Your first record is like elementary school,” Kimberly commented.  “You’re just finding your way.”

She said their second album made her feel “cool” as a high school upperclassman.  So now it’s off to college for the Perrys:  These cowpokes have adopted fresh sounds into the mix and added grown-up visuals to their wardrobe.

Still, it was nice when Kimberly excused their drummer and keyboard (and guitar) player and cozied up to the crowd, campfire-style, with breakout smash “If I Die Young.”  Another medley—this time dovetailing “Independence” with “Pioneer”—came off well in the “unplugged” format.

Later entries included new song “The Best One Yet” and a rousing interpolation of Queen’s “Fat-Bottomed Girls.”  The family outfit bade farewell to their Derby Day audience with kiss-off anthem “DONE” and uplifting My Bad magination cut “Look at Me Now.”   

The seventy-five minute extravaganza could’ve been a little longer, but those in attendance seemed to enjoy the Perrys’ Pop-Up Tour stop in Northeast Ohio.  Only time will tell if Kimberly, Reid and Neil will make a successful transition into the pop market. 

We’re hoping they don’t completely forsake their country-folk roots.