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Fuel Sweats to Success

The Band’s Latest Concert Spree Through Massachusetts Doesn’t Let Fans Down

By Pey-Hua Hwang


Fuel, Jenifer Listen

Cape Cod Melody Tent

June 27, 2001

In between a Tuesday and Thursday show with Aerosmith, the band Fuel managed to squeeze in a one-night headliner in Hyannis. The big blue “Melody Tent” housed hundreds of cheering fans and high energy rock as Fuel played to a sold out crowd. They played songs from both their newest CD, Something Like Human, and their previous hit, Sunburn. Many bands encounter the sophomore slump, but if there is such thing as a sophomore spike Fuel has achieved it. Many of the new songs are more lyrical but have lost none of the power or drive of the first album.

After the energy started to build with opening band, Jenifer Listen (who replaced the original opening band, Saliva), the stage darkened, a thunderous drumroll ensued, and out strode Fuel. Clad in a red leather and black denim jacket and matching cowboy style jeans and boots, Brett Scallions, the lead singer, started up with the high energy “Ozone,” throwing the crowd into a frenzy. When the song concluded all the band members were dripping with sweat, Scallions tossed his jacket backstage and called out, “Welcome to the Party! Ready to have some fun?”

They then launched into the similarly up-tempo “Mary Pretends,” but then gave themselves a breather with the slightly more mellow but no less intense “Knives.”

Next, they attacked “Bittersweet.” Lead guitarist Carl Bell’s fingers flew over the frets on his electric guitar and Scallions took out a guitar himself. Then it was time for “Shimmer,” one of the band’s hit singles. Here they milked the crowd for all it was worth. Scallions put his guitar away and threw his body into a crucifixion pose. He worked the crowd, used the microphone stand as a prop, and danced like a true “rock star.” Then he commented on how it was nice playing for Aerosmith but it was even better “to see our own f--kin’ people.”

After playing “Scar” they played the title track of their first album, “Sunburn.” This piece really showed off Bell, as it began with a guitar riff and was more lyrical. Out came the lighters for “Innocent.” This song was the first one where you got to really hear Bell’s voice, which had a deeper timbre than Scallions’s. The two traded off vocals while armed with guitars. This piece which was also more melodic and again featured Bell in a guitar solo.

Fuel then kicked the pace back up as Brett put away his guitar and put all his efforts into wielding the microphone for “Down.” He spent a lot of time at the edge of the stage shaking hands with the fans. Bell’s lyrical guitar solos were exchanged for ear piercing highnotes that indicated both skill and enthusiasm. With three more songs, they finished the show to an audience roaring for an encore.

Fuel would not disappoint. Out they came again, and kicked off the encore with the hit single “Bad Day.” They followed up with a cover of Nirvana’s “Breed,” doing full justice to the posthumous band, and finally finished with their chart topper “Hemorrhage,” which had the audience singing along with more energy than the rest of the concert. The band tossed out guitar picks and drum sticks.

Backstage with Fuel and “Fuelies”

A Fuel CD is amazing, but a Fuel concert is an experience not to be missed. After the concert there was an opportunity to talk to the band and some of their biggest fans backstage. The “Fuelies” had each been to approximately 15 Fuel concerts, knew all the band members on a first name basis, and even knew their favorite backstage foods.

The band members I was able to talk to were also quite personable. The lead singer was unavailable for comment, but bassist Jeff Abercrombie was quite happy to talk about how the band got together, and about growing up with lead guitarist Bell. Bell, who writes most of Fuel’s songs, commented on success.

“It’s like off the radar; you don’t actually think it’s possible,” he said. As for the inspiration for his songs, he cited “life experience...livin’ it.”