Group Therapy tour rocks Ruoff 90s style

Photo/Maggie NixonPhoto/Maggie Nixon
Rusty Nixon
Staff Writer

Some bands who have a monster hit get a bad rap.
One hit wonders, fluke, flash in the pan. It's a tag that's been applied to artists such as Peter Frampton who had one monster hit album and there are those that in spite of Darius Rucker's recent success as a country artist would apply that tag to Hootie & the Blowfish.
Of course just like Frampton, that tag doesn't fit Hootie any better, and it's something that becomes apparent to anybody lucky - or smart - enough to catch them in person and in this particular case, Hootie on their "Group Therepy" tour.
Saturday night the band showed the capacity crowd at the Ruoff Center in Noblesville exactly why they came, and exactly why every one in the universe owns the album "Cracked Rear View". It quite simply may be one of the best albums ever recorded, top to bottom, and unlike many bands who've "been around" paying their dues for over 30 some years on the road, they deliver every thing and more with enormous energy on the stage.
The musicianship of the band is obvious. They are slick and tight, moving with ease and comfort through their three hour set and giving the crowd what they expect - a show that lives up to the reputation of the bands music and it delivers on a number of levels.
Of course there are the hits. You expect them. But the band delivers them with such freshness and energy that you might think it was their first year on the road, not their 30th.
In the course of the night they also deliver a glimpse of themselves paying tribute to all the influences that made them who they are. The influence of superband REM has always been a given in the sound of Hootie & the Blowfish, but they pay homage to that openly with an obviously important to them cover of Losing My Religion, Rucker saying, "When we became a band this band meant everything to us. This is the reason we wanted to play music."
REM is not the only influence as the band tears through covers of Zeppelin's "Hey, Hey What Can I Do", ("Because it's the only Led Zeppelin song I can sing," admits Rucker) and mixes in Chuck D and Public Enemy, Kool and the Gang and Queen and bring opening acts Bare Naked Ladies and Jocelyn onstage for a rousing and perfect cover of Joe Cocker's version of the Beatles "With a Little Help from my Friends".
The theme of the night in fact, including the set by Bare Naked Ladies, was an homage to each of the bands themselves and a nod by both to where they came from and what they owe it all to - being one of the best damn bar bands in the world.
Oh. And on the way they wrote some of the best damn songs in the world too.
Opening act Jocelyn was a hit, for listeners, too.
All in all not a bad night. If you have a chance, spend the money. You'll know why you did when it's over.