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Posted on June 16, 2012

James Durbin: Slamming the Naysayers

An evening with James Durbin: Slamming the Naysayers

“That’s why I’m up here, and you’re down there. God bless you, man.”

In what was probably the best line muttered outside of a killer rock n’ roll tune during an evening at Ram’s Head Live! in Baltimore, James Durbin had to defend himself. The rock disruption was due to three morons who had found their way up to the front of the stage, hell-bent on making sure that Durbin knew they didn’t approve of his presence. Unfortunately, we (PEV’s Ken Harmon and Walt Zalis) were not surprised. In fact, we expected it. Durbin, still very fresh to the scene, was opening for a Baltimore favorite, hair metal band Steel Panther, who regularly pack the house when they pull up to Charm City. And of course, James is also well known for his top 4 finish on American Idol Season 10. Combine this with the fact that this group of three morons somehow bought a ticket to the show… and no, we were not surprised that Durbin had to defend himself right there, live on stage.

But Durbin isn’t new to this whole adversity thing – the guy essentially thrives off it. Have you read the man’s bio? Needless to say, his childhood was not exactly ideal; losing a father to a drug overdose at the age of 9, and then developing tourette and asperger syndrome shortly thereafter. It didn’t get much easier as an up and coming artist and a father – along with his then girlfriend (now wife) Heidi, the couple didn’t always know how they were going to make ends meet.

Things changed however, thanks to a little show called American Idol. It seems to have become a blessing and a curse for Durbin: the show propelled him to national recognition… but the fact remains that several blockheaded rock fans will never adopt Durbin’s music due to the fact he arrived thanks in part to a “pop” music show. I’m happy to report however, that there are a lot less blockheads than we expected.

From the start of Durbin’s set, he rushed the stage and immediately slammed us with his incredibly ranged voice – blowing us away with more power with every passing tune. He hit up his latest record, “Memories of a Beautiful Disaster” several times – songs like “Stand Up”, “Love Me Bad”, and a ditty dedicated to his wife: “Higher Than Heaven”. He was his own man up there – he held the crowd tighter and tighter in the palm of his hand with each passing song. Whether it was his own songs or a cover of Ronnie James Dio, it didn’t matter. So when those three morons near the front of the stage decided to try and bring Durbin down… they weren’t going to find many friends around them.

Following their terse exchange with Durbin, the rocker asked the crowd over and over again to give him a “HELL YEA!!” And every time, the crowd responded… louder, and louder. Every time showing they had Durbin’s back; every time showing that they respected his talent, no matter where he came from. I remember back in January, when Durbin was talking with us about his American Idol days, and his desire to establish his own fan base, he said “You want to be able to show them, you want to give them something special. And that’s what I wanted to do. That’s what ‘Memories of a Beautiful Disaster’ is.”

The crowd at Ram’s Head Live! found out what that something special is in James Durbin that night. And they shoved it right into the collective faces of three morons near the front of the stage. It was glorious.