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National Beat: Pablo Cruise Sails into Harrah’s Lake Tahoe

Stephen Price
Stephen Price
all photos by Nick McCabe - Front Row Photo

Pablo Cruise playing at Harrah's Lake Tahoe


By Nick McCabe – Front Row Photo

Pablo Cruise began their musical journey together over forty years ago. After some huge ups and downs and a long hiatus they reformed in 2004 and have been going strong since. The current lineup that played at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe Saturday night consists of three of the four original members: Cory Lerios on keyboards and vocals, David Jenkins on guitar and vocals, Stephen Price on drums, and a member since 2010 Larry Antonino on bass guitar and vocals. For me it was an eye opening evening of rediscovering a vastly talented and entertaining group of guys.

I was a big Pablo Cruise fan back in the day, but I wasn’t sure if they could still pull it off. Shame on me for doubting the Cruise-mobile! I was amazed at the musicianship, energy level, and sound quality that blew my hair back (what’s left of it) for almost two hours. My initial, less than high expectations may have caused me to be a bit hyper sensitive at first. The vocal harmonies seemed a little tenuous initially and I thought it was going to be a disappointing evening, but after a song or two the throats seemed to warm up and the harmonies jelled beautifully. Just like any demand on the body, whether it is lifting, running, jumping, or anything else, singing is best performed after a warm-up.

Cory Lerios acted as front man and carried the burden of ‘audience interaction’ all night by talking and joking with the audience. After their second song he said, “It’s time for our first break. It’s in our contract. Every two songs we take a break. We have oxygen standing by.” Later in the show he talked about their current ‘rider’ versus the old days saying, “Our rider used to say we needed four cases of Heineken, a case of Quervo Gold, masseuses… Now it’s 4 cases of Ensure, oxygen tanks, cots, and blankets. Our merchandise is all geriatric shit.” That’s old guy humor.

Cory is a gifted musician. His fingers danced effortlessly across the keyboards all night, like a cat’s paws trying to catch speedy mice on a hot griddle. He didn’t even need to watch what he was doing! He was looking around at the band and the audience without a concern in the world as to what his hands were up to. His keyboard skills are amazing. It probably doesn’t translate completely on recordings because you might think there are overdubs. He even made Chopsticks sound special.

David Jenkins does most of the singing, and he still has a great voice. Being the only guitar in the band comes with a lot of responsibility which he handled perfectly. Being a drummer myself I truly enjoyed Stephen Prices drumming. He has a powerful and creative style of playing that comes straight out of the 70’s and 80’s. His drum mix in the sound system was perfect. The power that was not only heard, but felt laid down the perfect pulse for Larry Antonino’s bass guitar.

The band successfully got the crowd on their feet about two thirds of the way through the show, and they kept us there for the rest of the evening. Usually when the band gets the crowd up, they’re back in their seats when the song is over. Not this time. It was impressive. When they played “I Go To Rio” the place exploded. Steve’s drumming was awesome. You couldn’t help but shake it a little bit. This was their last song before the obligatory encore. My favorite Pablo Cruise song of all is “Ocean Breeze”, and that’s what they played when they came back to the stage. More amazing keyboards filled the air. My evening was complete. They ended the show with “What You Gonna Do (When She Says Goodbye)”.

As I said earlier, I was surprised at how great the show was. I’m not sure why, but I didn’t expect such a good show. Going wasn’t even my idea. It was my sweetie’s idea. She has lots of good ideas. She points me in the right direction often. Happy Birthday Honey!

…and the beat goes on.

To see a complete photo gallery, click here.

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