Pomegranates are, or were, very odd fruits indeed. Suddenly and mysteriously transfigured into Healing Power, the Cincinnati foursome entertained at Chicago’s Schubas for about an hour, providing a positive, if occasionally bizarre punctuation mark to Groundhog Day 2013. Last appearing just west on Belmont at the Beat Kitchen on Election Night 2012, when they were clad in all white, tonight they arrived in black pants and black satin jackets which they doffed before the show, to reveal black t-shirts with an identical pattern (some sort of Möbius mystical thing) emblazoned on the back.
Just as they did in November, they began the show by introducing it as a revival of sorts, telling the crowd to turn off their cell phones and get their dancing shoes ready. Although their Beat Kitchen set was beset with technical and audio issues, they experienced no such hiccups tonight, and unlike that sparsely attended show, tonight they successfully retained much of the crowd’s attention, many of whom were clearly there to celebrate local opener Common Shiner’s new record release.
Although the pomegranate has been a symbol of the resurrection and the hope of eternal life of Christianity, the quartet has now abandoned that moniker in favor of the more direct Healing Power, also the name of one of the new songs they played live tonight. Throughout, the lead vocals alternated between Isaac Karns and Joey Cook, and although the former played mostly keyboards and the latter the bass, they and string-slinger Curt Kiser traded around their guitars and basses between sets with an aplomb that bordered on the Sloan-like. Only Jacob Merritt stayed behind the drum kit, although even he was jumping up and down a fair amount.
They opened with a new song, “High Class,” on which Karns sang “you saved nothing for yourself” in an ethereal falsetto, before introducing “Sisters,” from their most recent release, Heaven (Modern Outsider), as being about “loving and respecting women,” and it did indeed come across as an ode to the female gender.
Next up was “Skull Cakin’” from 2010’s One Of Us (Afternoon Records) which was a post-Jerry Lee Lewis rave-up, complete with climactic screaming—a definite highlight. “Demond” from the same record, brought to mind 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love” mashed up with The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me Baby.” Karns introduced “Pass Your Way” as a song about a dream he had where he was backstage at a KISS concert and Jesus spoke to him—once they launched into the song, it was clear that Pomegranates—sorry—Healing Power believe themselves to be the new psychedelic Bee Gees.
Indeed, one of the issues with assessing their live performance stems from a real disconnect between their recordings and their live show. For some reason, the sound they create on record comes off as swathed in psychedelia, whereas live they come across as a straightforward (if odd) ’80s-inspired dance band.
The next new song the band introduced was reminiscent of Arcade Fire, and “50’s” featured chiming echoey guitars that brought to mind The Ocean Blue. Two other high points included “Dream,” which they dedicated to the 27 million people held in slavery in the world and to anyone who’s ever lost someone, and one final new song, which Karns posited as being about “letting go of death.” Throughout their energetic and sterling set, Healing Power never lost their power, but whether anyone was healed as a result is anybody’s guess.
Healing Power at Schubas Tavern on Feb. 2, 2013 setlist
- “High Class”
- “Skull Cakin’”
- “Healing Power”
- “Create Your Own Reality”
- “Pass Away”
- “Surfing The Human Heart”