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Hands Down, Joey Molland's Badfinger furnishes the hits.

Live at Mayne Stage Chicago Sunday, March 2nd.Photos by Philamonjaro
Live at Mayne Stage Chicago Sunday, March 2nd.Photos by Philamonjaro
Keyboard and Vocalist Steve Wozny

Joey Molland's Badfinger performed more than twenty tunes at the spacious yet truly intimate Mayne Stage on Sunday night and might have left their fans crying for more if they hadn't graciously posed for photos and signed vinyl after their hit-filled set. The best news is that Badfinger has been enjoying a brand new audience after the Breaking Bad series used opening song 'Baby Blue' in a finale. Not surprisingly, AMC producer, Vince Gilligan, found it to be a perfect fit musically while the lyric supported the sobering theme of that episode. Since then, the ballad has enjoyed itunes exposure and rave reviews.

Keyboard player and vocalist Steve Wozny, drummer Mike Ricciardi, the most recent member, and 20-year-plus bass player/vocalist Mark Healey, who hails from Wisconsin, joined Molland in the energetic set, which featured songs from No Dice, Straight Up and Say No More. Everyone recognized 'Come And Get It,' which was penned specifically for the group by Paul McCartney, 'Without You', which was successfully covered by Harry Nilsson, as well as almost two hundred other artists, and the ever jubilant 'No Matter What'.

Second song, Molland's palpable 'Suitcase' brought to mind images of roadies and transient hotel rooms. Songs like 'Midnight Sun' and 'Midnight Caller' were conveyed with wild glissandos and bluesy riffs. The former tune is all about reminiscing and respecting the past. As expected, old-school harmonies brought back memories for many of the Badfinger enthusiasts in attendance. 'Better Days', performed in the middle of the set, still astonishes with its straight-ahead lyrics and catchy rhythms, and could there be a better way to enjoy Ricciardi's well-paced drum fills?

'Walk Out In The Rain', towards the end, is from Molland's new CD, Return To Memphis. The British singer-songwriter and bonafide instrumentalist performed the sensitive ballad with lots of heart and soul -- rumour has it Molland may be putting together an acoustic act in support of these fine soon-to-be classics. Stay tuned! Produced by Carl 'Wise' Blue of Stax Records fame, these original tracks include soulful backing vocals and themes drawn from personal and political observations.

It wouldn't have been a party without the quirky 'Vampire Wedding', which, with its delightful refrain, so successfully blends blues and hard rock. Pete Ham, Mike Gibbins and Tom Evans would have been proud.

The set would have ended with the jubilant 'No Matter What' but the audience demanded an encore. Molland played 'Mean, Mean Jemima' solo before bringing the band out again, mugging through 'Moolah' and ending with 'Sweet Tuesday Morning.' Molland's sincerity especially shone through vis a vis the bluesy framework of the first song. Alone, sans bells and whistles, this rock royal can still pull great emotion from his six-string and lived-in voice and it makes for a marvelous moment. Molland's natural and honest approach reminds us of why bands like Badfinger have carved such a unique place in rock 'n' roll history.

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