Lucid Culture


Mark Sinnis at Rockwood Music Hall, NYC 6/15/08

The frontman/bassist of long-running New York rockers Ninth House delivered a frequently riveting, low-key set of haunting Nashville gothic songs, mostly from his recently released solo debut Into an Unhidden Future. Fronting Ninth House, he frequently finds himself roaring over the band’s dark fury. Tonight, fingerpicking his acoustic guitar with a terse minimalism, Sinnis and his backing unit – Sarah Landeau playing equally terse, incisive, reverb-drenched electric guitar fills, and Ninth House keyboardist Matt Dundas on the house piano – held the audience in the palm of their hands. A song would finish, and the room would be silent for several seconds before breaking out in applause. Their slowly swaying version of the revenge anthem Mistaken for Love (which Ninth House pulls out all the stops on, live) built ever so slowly to a gently brutal crescendo. The trio reinvented the Ninth House number Down Beneath, in its recorded version a dead ringer for the Cure, as gospel-inflected soul fueled by Dundas’ piano. Taking advantage of the club’s lush sonics, Sinnis used every subtlety in his ominous baritone, particularly on an imaginative rearrangement of the big Ninth House audience hit, Put a Stake Right Through It (our pick for best song of the year 2000). The recorded version, driven by wrenchingly beautiful minor-key electric piano against arpeggiated electric guitar, goes straight for the jugular; this version began mysteriously, in a Nick Cave kind of way. For about a minute, it was impossible to tell where the song would go, to redemption or despair, before the last desperate chorus.


They also debuted an excellent new one, possibly titled There’s No Heaven, a darkly rustic, minor-key blues that wouldn’t be out of place on a Tom Waits album (or, thematically at least, on a John Lee Hooker 45). And there ain’t no devil, and there ain’t no hell, Sinnis crooned as the song came to an end. They followed with the gorgeously melodic When the Sun Bows to the Moon, Dundas’ stark gospel piano punctuating Landeau’s ambient washes of chords. Sinnis closed with a cover of Johnny Cash’s I Still Miss Someone evocative of the series of albums that Rick Rubin produced for the Man in Black in the 90s (which Sinnis emulates impressively on his solo cd). The surprisingly good crowd for a Sunday night wanted an encore but didn’t get one: it was time for the next act, someone who looked like an escapee from Menudo and didn’t surprise anybody when he started simpering into the mic while playing the piano with two fingers.  

June 16, 2008 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews

1 Comment »

  1. Are you a descendant of Salvatore Sinnis, who came to the United States from Italy around 1915?

    Comment by Peter C. Di Giulio | June 19, 2010 | Reply

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