Back On The Scene - John Fannon Performs Solo Show At Bull Run

Publish Notes: 

Cider Magazine May, 2012

Back On The Scene - John Fannon Performs Solo Show At Bull Run
Back On The Scene - John Fannon Performs Solo Show At Bull Run
Back On The Scene - John Fannon Performs Solo Show At Bull Run
Back On The Scene - John Fannon Performs Solo Show At Bull Run

SHIRLEY, MA. - For anyone who remembers the rock band New England and rode the wave of their 1979 Top 40 smash "Don't Ever Wanna Lose Ya," the chance to re-capture the musical thrills of one's youth should not be passed up if you can help it.

Photos by Joe Milliken

Therefore, the opportunity to see and hear former New England front-man and chief songwriter John Fannon perform a solo show at the Bull Run Restaurant in Shirley, was certainly a no-brainer for this long-time fan. I even brought along the old friend who turned me on to New England back in the day!

Having spent the last 25 years in the industry as owner of the Explorer Suite Recording Studio in Framingham, Fannon has recently been writing songs for his (very) long-awaited debut solo release titled Saved All The Pieces due for release in April. Hence, the excitement of his first solo release has also sparked John's desire to again perform live.

The Bull Run's upstairs setting seemed the perfect vibe on Saturday night for John's intimate, one-man show. Although you couldn't tell it was a one-man show by the stage set up: a keyboard and computer monitor, a few acoustic guitars, two electric guitars and a lone, inconspicuous drum in the corner.

After a nice opening set from the duo of vocalist Jilly Martin and guitarist Mike Kelly, John's set featured a balance, mixing old New England classics with songs from his upcoming solo release. Armed with a plugged-in acoustic and after opening with a couple New England tracks including "Hello, Hello, Hello" from the debut album, Fannon revealed songs from the new disc.

The title track "Saved All The Pieces," "Give Me Love" - a reflective song on war and how lucky we are to be safe in our homes and the Beatle-esque "Go To The Sun," were three beautiful songs all met with enthusiasm from the audience.

After two more New England tracks including a cool, acoustic version of "Shall I Run Away," another new song featured John switching off from single, dramatic piano notes to soaring electric solos, creating a sound reminiscent of Pink Floyd, creating a powerful-yet-soothing vibe.

Another touching, new song titled "You Went And Blew Me Away," John sings about people - strangers in fact - helping others in times of crisis. A riveting track filled with hope and humanity.

After a brief intermission, Jilly Martin returned to the stage for a duet with John on a song titled "Until You Came Along," which the two wrote together, before Fannon led into the country-feel of "Text Letters, Emails and Calls," in which he stopped mid-song to call his wife, who was conveniently sitting in the audience to answer his call.

After the echo-atmospheric "Go Your Own Way" and the New England gem "Get It Up," (featuring cleverly sampled string arrangements), it was time for the next guest to appear from the shadows. Under a chorus of cheers from the audience, old friend and New England drummer Hirsh Gardner would join John onstage for a low-fi, beautiful rendition of "Don't Ever Wanna Lose Ya."

I had almost forgotten how great a singer Hirsh also is and how vital his backing vocals were to the sound of those New England albums. What I had not forgotten, however, is just how powerful a drummer Mr. Gardner is, as he pulled out that "lone drum" in the corner to accompany John on the New England classic "Explorer Suite." How one can pull such depth from a single drum is beyond me.

What a treat as the duo conjured up a full, epic sound that when closing one's eyes, made it even harder to believe that just two musicians were on the stage and pulling this song off. I was clearly not the only one who felt this, as I looked around the room to see the audience either closing their eyes in concentration or with mouths agape, before letting out an approving round of applause at songs end. It was truly one of the highlights of the evening as John and Hirsh clearly demonstrated they still create that chemistry.

Fannon's encore included a cover of the Beatles' "Long And Winding Road," before finishing the night with "Hope" from the Explorer Suite album which John wrote in describing letters he would receive back in the day from New England fans "looking for direction in life." Aren't we all John, aren't we all.

To learn more about John Fannon's upcoming solo CD release and future live performances, visit online at It would be well worth the while to catch John's show and witness the talent and song-writing ability that not only made him a rising star with New England, but also brings him back today for another go-around.