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Start spreading the news: Decades is a hit in Paradise

Will Watje
Will Watje
Photo by David Wangberg

While there was not much of a turnout for the Feb. 15 concert, the Chico-based Decades still rocked the Paradise Performing Arts Center with covers of some of the most popular songs from the past and present.

Samantha Francis
Photo by David Wangberg

The concert was also a benefit for Paradise High School, whose choir started the show with performances of “Hush (Somebody’s Calling My Name)”; “Viva La Vida”; and “Yesterday.” The students joined the band for a performance of Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You” toward the end of the show as well.

Instead of walking out like any other band getting ready to put on a show, Decades had fun with their entrance. With the lights being dimmed and only instruments seen on the stage, a classic, television theme song suddenly erupted through the speakers. And once it started, this reporter suddenly had the image of a match lighting a dynamite wick. Yes, it was the “Mission: Impossible” theme, and the members – all dressed in white tuxedoes, sans lead singer Samantha Francis – could be seen doing somersaults and crawls across the stage as they made their way toward their instruments.

Decades kicked off with a cover of “Fever,” which was spearheaded by Francis’ sultry vocals and Toby Brooks strumming the bass. The young Francis not only showed off her incredible vocal talent, but she did so in a flirtatious way – with her shining smile and several winks to the audience. And her cover of Etta James’ “At Last” left everyone breathless.

Each member of the band showed they weren’t limited to just one thing. Francis would sing, play guitar, and share the keyboard with Ben Ruttenberg. Or she would take over while Ruttenberg sang covers of “New York, New York” and “The Wanderer.”

Guitarist Will Watje would switch from his stringed instrument to a saxophone for several songs. And he showed true talent with both instruments. A highlight was when he mimicked Chuck Berry’s skipping across the stage while perfecting the solo for “Johnny B Goode.”

Brooks took over for some of the deeper-vocaled songs such as Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” while still playing solidly on the bass.

Billy DiBono proved to be a master on the drums. When it came time for him to go solo on “Wipeout,” he showed no hesitation and received a well-deserved standing ovation from the audience.

Going through the many different eras of music, Decades also incorporated some classic pop culture references. Before the performance and during intermission, various television theme songs could be heard through the loud speakers. In the transition to Rock ‘N’ Roll, a preacher by the name of Jimmy Snow came to the stage – protesting the “evil” of the genre. As he gave his sermon, Decades returned and shooed the man away. Appropriately, the second song that followed the Jimmy Snow bit was “Rock ‘N’ Roll is Here to Stay.”

Decades isn’t so much a cover band, but a band that covers popular songs extremely well. They have an energetic drive that doesn’t let off the pedal, and are a must-see live.

Their next performances will be at the Twin Pine Casino in Middletown, Calif. on Feb. 21 and 22. Click here for more tour dates.