PBS | 10.12.07 | Baton Rouge, LA
PBS :: 10.12.07 :: Chelsea’s Café :: Baton Rouge, LA
Given the nature of the group and its members, many would expect a funk-heavy set drawing primarily from their Meters background, but even though New Orleans funk may be at the core of PBS, they’re no mere retread of their past. At Chelsea’s, the opening number, “Cissy Got the Blues,” perfectly illustrated their musical approach – staying true to their roots while taking the music to another level – using the classic hook from the Meters’ “Cissy Strut” as a launching pad for a psychedelic, blues freakout. That led into the crunchy syncopation of “All We Wanna Do (Is Get Funky with You Tonight)” from their 2005’s Expanding the Funkin’ Universe. After cutting loose for a few tunes and getting the crowd into the beat of their gritty, bayou grooves, PBS dropped a seriously unexpected but very welcome surprise, an absorbing cover of Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them” > “Any Colour You Like.” Porter’s meaty basslines, replete with long, thick notes, created deep pockets for Batiste’s rhythm and Stoltz’s sailing solos, which gradually rose to the point of transcendence on the instrumental “Any Colour You Like.” Other first set highlights included the thundering “I Get High (Every Time I Think About You)” and the organic “Moving to the Country,” two Porter originals from his recently released album, It’s Life.
Stoltz’s guitar overwhelmed the crowd as Porter and Batiste were right in step, instinctively pushing the boundaries of each song to the sonic brink. After a maddening jam session complete with round robin solo swapping, the trio launched into a feedback drenched, wah-wah driven cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Spanish Castle Magic.” Next came the evening’s most mind bending moment. As Batiste and Stoltz struck into what appeared to be another Floydian fugue, Porter began blasting the guitar solo from Neil Young’s “Down by the River” on his bass while his compadres complemented his pulse with the rhythmic underpinnings of “Breathe in the Air.” That track coalesced into the blues staple “Come On (Let the Good Times Roll),” a song recorded by both Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan but originally the signature tune of legendary New Orleans blues master, Earl King. Keeping with the Hendrix theme, the trio lit into the surging melody of Band of Gypsys’ “Them Changes.” Later, PBS sealed the evening with a smooth exclamation point, sending the Baton Rouge crowd home with the haunting chill of Curtis Mayfield’s “Here But I’m Gone.”
With an overabundance of over hyped bands touring out there, seeing a band that shares its initials with the Public Broadcasting Service probably wouldn’t even cross the mind of most fair weather music fans, but serious concertgoers should take note. PBS is a group like no other. Comprised of members who forged their reputations piloting arguably the foremost funk outfit of all time, not to mention recording and touring behind a list of musical luminaries a mile long, they have nothing left to prove. Their skills are unquestionable and their chemistry, unshakable. They are simply good friends who enjoy grooving together for music’s sake regardless of place and time. And, perhaps, therein lies the explanation as to why their jams are unlike anyone else around.
JamBase | Louisiana
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