Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band
Live at Grumpy’s
(Rum Bar Records)
It’s one of the biggest clichés in music journalism to toss out the caveat, “Yeah, but you should really see them live.” Well, screw it, there’s really no way around the fact that Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band have to be experienced live to take in the enormity of their sound.
It’s usually a bad idea to put out a live record just an album or two into your career, but the idea of capturing a recent set at the band’s local hangout, Grumpy’s Bar in downtown Minneapolis, was a stroke of genius. No matter how much you dig their debut, Promises to Deliver (and you should dig it a lot), Live at Grumpy’s is simply brilliant from start to finish. Like a Springsteen bootleg from one of his late ’70 show at the Bottom Line, Live at Grumpy’s capture Coles and his crew in their element, triumphantly playing bar band rock and roll, with big hooks and catchy choruses, to a crowd of diehard fans.
Through eight-songs – among them “You Can Count on Me,” “Sweet Baby,” “Standing on the Corner Alone,” some tracks from Coles’ previous group and a stellar cover of “I’m a Shark” from Minneapolis’ Cortez The Killer – the band deftly careens through a perfect set of barroom rock reminiscent of everyone from The Replacements to classic 38 Special.
If nothing else, this live record is proof that Coles and his band is not just the best thing going in Minneapolis rock right now, but one of the best things going in music right now, anywhere.