"Get Shot by a Pro"

Review of ELI at the Tralf 9.28.12

Show Review of ELI at the Tralf,  Friday Night September twenty-eighth, 2012.

What can I say in one sentance about this show? Only that if you missed it you wasted your night!

The show opened with Rob Bilson (formerly of Seven Day Faith) and Craig McDonnell (A-List band).

Craig, showed off his ability to play many different string instruments and provide great vocal harmony to Rob during this opening act, as he deftly switched between banjo, guitar, mandolin and a slide delta tuned guitar. Rob’s voice was energetic and smooth as he put on a performance to be well remembered by those in attendance.

Lets not forget about the main act ELI. ELI, for those not knowing is a seven member tribute band to Three Dog Night. That is comprised of  Paulie Battaglia (Changes) on Drums, Mike Carroll (Boys of Summer) Keyboards, Rick Ryan (Weekend, Fat Brat) Bass, and Tony Dalfonso (Party of Nine) on Lead Guitar, forming the backbone, solid foundation and sound for the band ELI, that rivals Three Dog Nights Players. The three Lead Singers are  no slouches either, I might add. All capable vocalist and do in fact front their own bands. Tommy Gariano (A-List) taking on the part of the rocker Danny Hutton from TDN, Phil Hudson (The Road) representing the soulful sound of Buffalo’s own Cory Wells of TDN and Mark Valentino (HitnRun) reprising the role of  fellow NYC born Chuck Negron of TDN.

ELI had their way with this full house audience at the Tralf, from the first to last note. They owned the audience and they (the audience) clearly loved ELI right back. By the end of the show everyone was out of their seats grooving and moving to this band. This assembly of Western New York talent was clearly on their collective A-Plus game. How could they not be?  With seven magnificent entertainers on one stage and a catalog of TDN songs (that ELI made the difficult harmony’s seem like child’s play) to pick and choose from. Some of the set list included: “Eli’s Coming”, “Black and White”, “Pieces of April”, “Celebrate”, and “One” just to name a few from the many performed.

A few of the more memorable moments that just stood out beyond belief to this reviewer:

Phil Hudson, taking the lead on “Pieces of April” was so soulful and beautiful that the crowd was just mesmerized and touched by him. This guy knows how to take a song and make it live in your heart.

Mark Valentino, who not only did a masterful job on “One” was sheer pleasure on the ears. The feel that emoted from him touch each and everyone. (Last time I had seen and herd this song Live was with Three Dog Night and all the original singers) Mark’s vocal rendition of this in my opinion was better than Chuck Negron’s).

Tommy Gariano, spot on vocalization on “Mama told me Not to Come”, still leaves me wondering if he was channeling Danny Hutton. Just incredible job on it.

The three lead singers where aptly backed up vocally with additional harmonies and musically. Rick Ryan (while laying down the law on bass), Tony Dalfonso (scorching out some nasty licks along his fret board), Mike Carroll (played so hot that you could see the flames coming from his keyboards )and the thundering drumming of Paulie Battaglia (who was always in the pocket, a clock). The heart and soul that the band provided was uncanny, drop dead, lock on Three Dog Night sound! What really stands out is it was only their fourth show together.

You ask why do you want to see just another “Cover / Tribute Band”? The next time you get a chance to go and see ELI, do yourself a favor and catch these guys’. You will not be sorry, I promise you. They are the real deal musically and they are not just your average “Cover / Tribute  Band”. Your ears and inner being with thank you for it.  If you close your eyes and listen to them, I ask you this closing question,…are they really just a tribute band to Three Dog Night or  just Maybe…?


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