All-encompassing onstage document of legendary band’s latter-day glory.
Keeping their profile low and their performance standard high, the reformed PAVLOV’S DOG may have produced just one studio record, but here’s the second concert album from their post-Millennium incarnation, which is David Surkamp and a coterie of top-notch players. It’s always been the singer’s vision that propelled the ensemble forward, and “House Broken” feels quite different from "Live And Unleashed" – and not only because there’s a DVD shot in October 2015 in Nuremberg, but also thanks to a much wider span of the veteran’s repertoire.
This time the show does include “Julia” that, while revealing a strain in vocals, is a triumphant finale of the 2-hour-plus run through David’s back pages, and it’s still the same easily recognizable voice springing to life with “Echo & Boo” from a whisper of a meditative intro to a scream, as a psychedelically colored footage of nature cuts to the stage panorama, and ripping through “Episode” and its solemn ache. Classics such as “Theme From Subway Sue” and a mandolin-stricken “Gold Nuggets” create an emotional flow with newer creations like “One Of These Days” to find Surkamp in turns relaxed and nervous, contextually agitated on “Fast Gun” and at peace with the world on a previously unaired hymn “Shaking Me Down” with only acoustic strum to carry the words. There’s no fooling the audience in hiding the artist’s sentimentality behind dark glasses and a transformation of “Did You See Him Cry” into a serenade to a toy bat, but when it comes to guitar attack, David’s dexterous solos are impressive on “Only You” and “Song Dance” where his and Amanda McCoy’s licks get into a competition of sustain in a folk environment.
The leader’s wife Sara graciously delivers the “Crying Forever” blues that David wrote for SAVOY BROWN to reclaim now and bolster the choruses, but also to outline the three-women line-up that makes today’s DOG special. That’s why Surkamp is not averse to stepping aside to let the band shine and give each player a chance to move into the spotlight and be admired by the audience as well as by the rest of the ensemble. With Abbie Steiling adding sadness to the contemplative anthem of “Lost In America” and turning “Preludin” into a court dance, while “Canadian Rain” is given a funk injection from Rick Steiling’s bass solo, and the riffs of HI-FI’s “Walkway” get countrified, the band’s current genre gamut has become richer than it’s ever been. And though David seems to go into a reverie during “Valkerie” and its “Bring back the good old days” refrain, his band’s bite is as vigorous now as it was back in the day. Here’s full house rather than broken one.