As the sun set on Ferndale and the warm day transitioned into a chilly night, Metro-Detroiters headed to The Loving Touch to catch the genre-defying 5-piece fusion band, Desmond Jones. It was sure to be a special night for the band and the fans, who go by Jonesies, as the excitement built for their first headlining show on the east side of the state, with support from Sun Tribe.
Sun Tribe took the stage at 9:15 PM for a set of high energy rock with influences from jazz and electronica. Playing an even mix of songs that featured floating vocal harmonies and instrumentals, the 4-piece band ran through a set list of all original material. One instrumental piece featured Joe Neirynck (Bass/Synth) on the synthesizer, with Adam Bodeep and Joe Provenzano complimenting the atmospheric playing with some melodic rhythm guitar, and Mike Benoit driving the beat on his cymbals. With enough time for one last tune, the band kept the energy up with the second performance of a brand-new song.
With the crowds dancing feet warmed up it was time for Desmond Jones to take the stage. With quick temp, the set began with “Song about George." A curious crowd listened as an unorthodox beat from Nowak initiated “Ballad of Dante Fletcher”. The song opened with a tricky composed section that created tension with a delightfully dissonant melody and rapidly changing rhythms. The composed section released into a funky groove as Berkowitz took lead vocals. Following “Ballad” the crowd was treated to the whimsical “Freaking Huge Waves,” with Bota taking lead on guitar and vocals.
After the three-song section, the band took a few seconds to say hello before starting the fan favorite “Mt. Meesha.” Meesha is the perfect example why Desmond Jones doesn’t fit inside conventional music categories. Halfway through the song, a progressive instrumental section navigates around exciting rhythms, pulling ideas from many different genres and leaving the listeners on the tips of their toes. In juxtaposition to the intricacy of the composed section, the band lets loose into a floaty improvised jam highlighted by long sweeping notes from Falk and a raw tone from Bota on lead guitar. Creating a sea of sound, the jam slowly drifted from harmonious and light to distorted and heavy leading to a euphoric crescendo.
Without wasting any time, the bass heavy “Hot Ham” carried the momentum. Next was a song that made its debut in 2016, “Good Song” followed by the heavy hitting downtempo groove of “She.” Using a laidback blues progression as foundation, Falk, Bota, and Isaac took turns building momentum on the laidback groove held by Nowak and Loria until they joined together to sing through the chorus one last time. A tight version of the short and sweet alto-country tune “Mississippi” brought the tempo back up before an excellent version of “I Recall,” a slower sentimental tune written by Bota. Building energy while riding on the back beat, “I Recall” has an intense slow-motion feel that persuades the listener to sway from side to side during the solos.
“Note from Dad” was up next and it lived up to its reputation of producing explorative jams. Covering a lot of ground, the jam started off with speedy funk segment that reached a tense crescendo before journeying to a softer psychedelic section, allowing Nowak to take an intriguing drum solo. Nowak continued a beat smoothly out of his solo and the rest of the band hopped into the groove. With everyone sharing the responsibility of playing in rhythm, the band stayed in the pocket exploring different combinations and layers of chords for a few minutes before Nowak began suggesting the beat of “Note from Dad” inside the improv. Soon enough the rest of the band followed Nowak’s lead, using the energy from the jam to play the outro.
Before leaving the stage the crowd was treated to “More Days Like These,” a song that is reminiscent of 90’s Americana. It didn’t take long for the band to give into the calls for an encore, and they came out to close the night off with a heavy cover of Frank Zappa’s “Cosmik Debris.”
After a diverse 12 song set, Metro-Detroiters left with smiling faces and their fingers crossed that Desmond Jones would be back soon.