When Fats Domino died last week at age 89, Crescent City said goodbye to yet another legend.
“Fats Domino added to New Orleans’s standing in the world and what people know and appreciate about New Orleans,” the Big Easy’s mayor, Mitch Landrieu, said in a statement Wednesday. Added Quint Davis, producer of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival: “There are only two people from New Orleans that have changed the music of the world, and that’s Louis Armstrong and Fats Domino. … Fats was right there with Elvis and the birth of rock ’n’ roll and brought that to the world.”
However, when another festival, the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, took place in New Orleans just a few days after Domino’s death, surprisingly few artists on the bill, other than the Foo Fighters, paid homage to the rhythm and blues pioneer — which seemed to confirm an argument in a recent Offbeat magazine article that Voodoo is “losing its New Orleans identity.” Interestingly, it was Sunday headliners the Killers — who hail from Las Vegas — who really stepped up to give Domino his due, emerging onstage to the entrance music of Fats’s “Walking to New Orleans” and then covering another one of his hits.
“We lost another one of rock ’n’ roll’s founding fathers on Tuesday, and he happened to be from New Orleans,” frontman Brandon Flowers lamented. “Some of my favorite memories of my childhood are driving around with my dad. He used to have this ’49 Buick. … And the station was always set to the oldies. And when Fats Domino came on, we always turned it up.”
Then, accompanied by local brass players, the Killers launched into a loving cover of Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame” — following a venerable rock ’n’ roll tradition, since the swinging, swampy romp has been remade in the past by Cheap Trick, Tanya Tucker, Mud, and both John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Though it was unclear if the younger audience members recognized the 62-year-old Domino song, many locals surely appreciated the sentiment.
However, millennial and Gen-X spectators got their own nostalgia fix, thanks to the Killers’ moody cover of Joy Division’s “Shadowplay” and a 90-minute perfect festival set frontloaded with, and generally heavy on, classic cuts from Hot Fuss (the band’s 2004 new-wavey opus of such Duran Duran-like decadence, it should’ve had a Patrick Nagel painting on its cover). Highlights included a stupendous “Mr. Brightside” opener, “Somebody Told Me,” and “Smile Like You Mean It” within the first five numbers, an anthemic audience singalong of “All These Things That I’ve Done,” and the interrogation-room cliffhanger “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” as their dramatic encore.
We’d recommended that the Killers should just play Hot Fuss cuts from now on, except that their unabashedly attitudinal new single “The Man” (from their just-released fifth album, Wonderful Wonderful) was such a hot, fussy, fantastic four minutes of Vegas flash and swagger, it’s clear that 13 years after they first burst on the scene, the Killers — despite multiple hiatuses and lineup shakeups — still have skin in the music game, and Flowers is still very much The Man.
Seattle folk-rockers the Head and the Heart, rocking Slash and Freddie Mercury costumes in honor of Halloween weekend, also brought the nostalgia with a lovely, goose-bump-raising cover of “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” although Freddie-‘stached frontman Jonathan Russell felt the need to inform the crowd, “That’s Crowded House, in case you didn’t know.” One fan felt the need to shout back: “Of course we know! It’s an ’80s classic!”
There was still room for new musical discoveries on Voodoo’s final day, however. And Sunday’s standout was Philly hardcore outfit Mannequin Pussy, whose angel-winged, devil-woman singer Marisa Dabice was a rock ’n’ roll revelation. Expect to hear more from MP in the future, and check out the video below of Dabice in all her knee-dropping, back-bending glory to see what all the hot fuss is about.
The Voodoo Music + Arts Experience streamed live on Yahoo Oct. 27-29, featuring the Killers, Foo Fighters, Prophets of Rage, and more. Click here for video highlights from the weekend’s stream.