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By Chuck Cox

Special Contributor

Toad the Wet Sprocket

Toad the Wet Sprocket lead singer Glen Phillips (right) and Jonathan Kingham at the Kessler on Thursday night. (Photo: Chuck Cox)

One of the coolest things about music is its power to take you back to a certain place and time in your life. For me, Toad the Wet Sprocket instantly transports me back to my college days, in the 1990s.

And while I always dug the California-based quartet’s mellow radio hits that kept me away from studying on many an ocsasion back in those days, I honestly didn’t realize the band, which gets its name from a Monty Python skit, was still together. So, when I saw Toad the Wet Sprocket was going to play the Kessler, I jumped at the chance to finally see the band play live. I’m glad I did. The show sold out quickly. And it really was a very cool concert experience, as most are at the Kessler.

The band, consisting of all-original members: bassist Dean Dinning, drummer Randy Guss, guitarist Todd Nichols, lead singer and guitarist Glen Phillips, is not only still together after a long hiatus that lasted until 2006, but it is also set to put out a new album, New Constellation, on June 1. The band debuted some of the new material, which sounded incredible and blended in perfectly with their older stuff, during its well-paced set on Thursday night.

It was really an enjoyable 80-minute show that had the crowd loving every second. Of course, the hits — “All I Want,” “Fall Down,” “Good Intentions,” and show-closer “Walk on the Ocean” — all sounded sublime. And you could tell the band was feeding off the energy from the crowd.

It was refreshing to a successful band still intact, churning out the tunes that made you fall in love with it in the first place. It’s pretty rare, too. Most bands from back in the day have at least one new member.

Additionally, opening act Jonathan Kingham was living proof of why it’s often a good idea to show up on time to see the openers. Before he played keys and guitar and sang with Toad the Wet Sprocket during its set, Kingham, also from Cali, delivered a fun, engaging, beuatifully-played set. And if the singer-songwriter thing doesn’t work out for him, which it will, he has a future as a comedian. The guy was seriously hilarious. Best stage banter I’ve ever heard, hands down. He even covered Bobby Brown’s “Every Little Step,” which led to a pretty sweet freestyle rap, with an acoustic guitar accompaniment. Be on the lookout for this cat.

If you missed this show, you really missed out on a good one. I’ll be back at the Kessler Saturday for Joan Osborne and Sunday for Mark Cohn, so check back next week.

Photo album.

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