Mary, Mary

I had the pleasure of getting to see Mary Weiss sing (for the first time since 1989, incidentally) on March 3rd at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland. The guys from the Reigning Sound wrote and produced songs for her just-released recording, “Dangerous Game.” The show was her CD release party and part of the Beachland’s 7th Anniversary weekend.

I’ve always liked the vibe of the Shangs and how they stood apart from the other 60s girl groups with a tougher, streeet-wise sound. It’s almost a shame that they’re saddled with “Leader of the Pack” as their most popular hit, primarily because the “oldies” resurgence of the 80s altered it’s status to kitschy novelty pop. It’s not. The Shangs operated in dark teen melodrama. “Remember (Walking in the Sand),” is one of the most memorable and influential girl group songs from its era and every note sounds like it was wrung from a heartbroken teen’s tear-soaked pillow.

And Mary — she was the lead singer. With an adnoidnal edge, her vocals bled with raw bad-girl sass. Completely unique. Icing on the cake was her looks — straight blonde hair and a pixie-like face that contorted into expressions that glowed with every adolecent emotion from desire to heartbreak to giddy crush. I’d never seen performance footage of the group until just a few years ago after seeking it out. It was love at first sight. There is so much to adore about this hard, snarling Bronx prom queen. I mean, seriously — just look at her:

And she’s still got the pipes. Her voice now is just a smokier version of the same sound — and hearing it live, performed to a packed house of people as enthralled and appreciative as I, was quite a charge. And then — I met her(!). Watching her perform on stage was surreal because she truly has not changed much at all. She’s just older now — but you can still hear and see the fifteen-year-old you recognize when she’s right there in front of you. Standing before the seated Mary Weiss with only a table between us I found myself hoping for a “Somewhere-In-Time” moment where she’d lean in and whisper “Come back to me,” into my ear like Jane Seymore did to Christopher Reeves so that I could travel back to 1965, fall in love with her, and ride off into the sunset on the back of her motorcycle.

Instead, I got her autograph, told her she was amazing and walked away feeling like I’d just experienced the closest thing I’d ever have to a pipe dream coming true.

The concert promo poster now hangs in my living room– Mary in leather and shades printed in black on blood red, with a personal message scrawled in silver Sharpie ink across the bottom: To Will, L-U-V Mary Weiss.

You best believe I’m in love L-U-V.


~ by Number5ive on March 19, 2007.

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