One of the last hurrahs of Miracle Legion. Photo by Lynn Vala

Life is too short. Sometimes certain events cause you to rethink what you had previous thought. The farewell tour of Miracle Legion is an event that should not be missed. I would have liked to bring you this revue earlier but they did not come my way until last night, April 20, 2017.

The waiting was worth it. I have been into Miracle Legion since the mid 90’s when Polaris, (their fracture group formed at the request of the producers of Nickelodeon’s The Adventures Of Pete And Pete, who wanted to use Miracle Legion music in the show) was first seen romping about in the Pete’s front yard. I researched into Polaris and found the hidden treasure that is/was Miracle Legion.

Miracle Legion’s downfall was no fault of their own. They are a tight band. Once the lineup of Mark Mulcahy (vocals, winds, guitar) and Ray Neal (guitar) was solidified with the addition of Dave McCaffrey (bass and vocals) and Scoutt Boutier (drums), this band became a killing machine! Rage Against The Machine? Outside the obnoxious angst RATM offered, Miracle Legion was a better oiled machine. Mulcahy’s lyrics carried more weight in controversial areas than Zack de la Rocha could ever dream of. During the show’s “encore” (the band could not leave the stage due to the bizarre location of the stage in the venue) Mulcahy related how, after the release of their song “Snacks And Candy” about the killing of Yusef Hawkins, and how they were invited to and did meet Al Sharpton.

The super-sized Sharpton.

Now this review is going to be more along the lines of how the live revues are going to be handled. Again, life is too short for me to spend hundreds on tickets, and spend my time with my head down, scribing away like a mad man (you can see me doing so on the Todd Rundgren video “Healing Live”, if you look to audience right, I am in the front row with my head down, my photographer was featured on camera taking photos). Between this and the abysmal view numbers lately (I blame myself for having to take a “no-compete” year off), it simply was not worth it.

But when something as significant as the farewell tour of Miracle Legion comes to your neighborhood? You take the parking ticket (mine was $26, cheaper than most Philly parking garages, and yes, the same parking authority featured on Parking Wars). You could say we used the system to beat the system. But these are the sacrifices you make to be part of modern musical history.

Ray (“Don’t-Call-Me-Mr. Ray) Neal generating the sounds that make Miracle Legion what R.E.M. WANTS to be. Photo by Lynn Vala

The show was mind-blowing. McCaffrey’s bass rumbled the stage in conjunction with Boutier’s bass drum. A coordinated sonic boom right in the room! The maestro Ray Neal (DON’T CALL HIM MR. RAY!!!) was a one-man tonal palate. The chordal shapes of all the songs lay in his surgically skilled hands. They did NOT disappoint.

Putting the bottom on one of the top unheard, unappreciated bands ever. Photo by Lynn Vala

And then there was the vocals… You’ve heard me go on and on about Mulcahy’s pipes. Well, apart from being a touch tour fatigued, Mulcahy was right there, delivering the goods. But when your voice is kinda shot, you get the audience to help you out.

The audience’s voice, was the loudest of all…

He also seemed to be in great spirits. That may be due to the date of the show. 4/20. For those of you who are not familiar, 420 is the universal code for marijuana use (legalize it now!). Well of course, that was a well spring of opportunity for audience chatter while Neal tuned and adjusted his equipment for the next audible assault. I was fortunate enough to be right up front and seeing that Neal eschewed the Vox and Marshall cliches, he brought the amp that is closest to my heart, an old, beaten but still tremendous sounding Roland JC-120 (I am partial, I own two). McCaffrey’s rig included Gallen-Krueger head with (get this) an ACOUSTIC cabinet!! It sounded great! Also eschewing convention choices for amplification, no Ampeg SVT or even the newer brand Aguilera. Boutier’s kit was a DW with Evans heads and Zildjian cymbals. Boutier was super monster killer behind the kit.

The soon-to-be-former drummer of Miracle Legion, Scott Boutier showing off his Mike Nesmith look. Photo by Lynn Vala

But as is with all this joy and euphoria, a distinct sadness hung in the air. THIS WILL BE THE LAST OF MIRACLE LEGION. I feel as though I am losing a best friend to cancer, that’s the sort of loss I (and I imagine everyone else in the audience) felt. It truly was a kick to the gut when Mulcahy introduced Scott Boutier and said “this is most likely the last time you will ever see him”.

How the fuck is someone supposed to enjoy when a bombshell like that is dropped? I did read an interview with Neal and oddly enough he seemed receptive to continuing. Let’s hope it was just a joke.

The set list was incredible, many audience favorites, some tunes from the newly re-released Portrait Of A Damaged Family, selections from The Backyard, Surprise Surprise Surprise, and Me And Mr. Ray. Songs like “KKM”, “All For The Best”, “The Backyard”, “Homer”, “Butterflies”, and a rousing version of “Mr. Mingo” filled the room and our ears.

Mark Mulcahy. Not much more to be said. The voice of an angel, the beard of David Letterman. Photo by Lynn Vala

Mulcahy was animated, doing Irish jigs, spraying Neal (and many of us in the front row) with bottled water, leaning out into the audience and at one point, almost falling in. But for me, the best moment was when Mulcahy looked at ME, and asked ME if I was OK, how I was doing. Did he recognize me from the World Cafe Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You show? Doubt it. But a reviewer can dream… Another plus moment was telling Neal “thanks for the guitar lesson”.

It made him smile.

We did have the opportunity to stop after the show and talk to Neal and Mulcahy as they were signing things at the merch table (that we had already plundered). But in light of my recent experiences with meeting my “heroes”, I felt perhaps it would be best just to walk on by. They had given all they had to give on stage a few minutes before, I wasn’t about to get greedy and besides, never meet your heroes (check in with any of my live Todd Rundgren reviews).

Take a good look. As you’ll not be seeing this band again, ever. Depressing. Photo by Lynn Vala

Admittedly my heart is heavy writing this review, I know I may never see this band again. Yes, I have albums, even new live albums by Polaris and Miracle Legion (thanks to that merch table), but this event, was so much fun, it rocked so hard, it will be one of those memories to be cherished forever.

If you live in NYC, they are playing there next. You can head to and check out the remaining few dates. If you miss it, my condolences.


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