Not even the best salesman could’ve convinced me to buy into “The New Cars.” Do you even remember them? From 2005-2007 Todd Rundgren, Prarie Prince, and Kasim Sulton joined Greg Hawkes and Elliot Easton to form this offshoot band. I’m glad I held out because the original band reformed last year. Except for the late Ben Orr, The Cars are back with a new album, Move Like This, which they have been promoting through a ten city tour of the U.S and Canada. On May 25th, 2011 The Cars revved their engines over to a SOLD OUT Roseland Ballroom in New York City. Are The Cars rusty? You Might Think that, but I found them to be just as pristine as when I first heard them.
After reading reviews of the first few dates of The Cars tour, I was pleased to know that they are a no nonsense band. They didn’t have an opening band, they didn’t wait for 2 hours to go on stage, and they didn’t B.S about politics and who we should vote for in the next presidential election in between songs; all they did was delight the crowd with their new wave brand of rock and roll.
After stating a reunion would never happen, Ric Ocasek was finally back on stage with his band mates where he belongs. Front and center with his signature black hair and big sunglasses, Ocasek looked so comfortable up on stage that I’m pretty sure they could play another 10 – 15 years. I didn’t expect Ocasek to sound exactly like he did back in the day, but he sounded right on point. There were some moments when he backed away from the mic to play his guitar and his vocals trailed off and a couple of times where he seemed a little off key, but aside from that it was like listening to the studio versions. No one was there to hear him do vocal calisthenics anyway. All the electronic bleeps and bloops sounded perfect and the background vocals in the choruses provided that key element that helps make the songs so catchy.
It was really a trip getting to see a band whose songs and videos mesmerized me as a kid. I never saw The Cars live and it was amazing to finally get to experience their show. The setlist was a good mix of old, new, and rare. They played hits like “Good Times Roll” and “You Might Think,” but their new material really brought them alive. They seemed to have a blast with songs like “Blue Tip” and the hard rocking must download “Keep on Knocking.” The revitalized Cars showed that extra jolt when kicking into new tunes like “Sad Song” and “Free.”
A concert on a Wednesday night is tough so The Cars took pity on us and made it an early night for the sold out crowd at Roseland. The audience wasn’t obnoxious and people weren’t pushing and shoving, at least in my area of the floor. The band didn’t make us wait long for their encore either. The three song encore included “Just What I Needed,” “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight,” and my favorite, “Moving In Stereo.” With the vitality of the material on Move Like This, I hope The Cars continue to make new music because judging by their concert in New York City, they haven’t missed a beat.