Tedeschi Trucks Band Continue Beacon Tradition In NYC
Images by: Adam McCullough
Read Chad’s review below Adam’s gallery from Saturday night.[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”8″ gal_title=”Tedeschi Trucks Band Beacon Theatre”]
“What a badass band.”
That was Roseanne Cash describing the Tedeschi Trucks Band Saturday night, and far be it for any of the Beacon assembled to disagree. It’s usually a waste of time to talk about which bands belong in which pantheons and why, but if there’s a good hearty conversation of top-level consistency among jam scene bands, well, Derek and Susan’s powerhouse is absolutely in that conversation.
These fall Beacon Theater runs by the TTB have been going on long enough now that we can talk about hallmarks, and talk about evolution. TTB began as sort of a loose- limbed collective, unsure of itself and knowing only that it wanted to make some statements in the realm of soul and R&B while making the best possible expression of its married-couple frontpersons. In the years since, it’s made increasingly better albums of increasingly sturdier original music, assembled a superb repertoire of cover songs that fit well in its all-pistons-firing approach and has become a steadily more interesting live band even with some significant and ongoing lineup changes.
Saturday’s show was the second of this year’s Beacon four-pack. The massive band took over the stage once more, and seemed to cover all the bases, from staples (“Made Up Mind,” “The Sky Is Crying,” “Bound for Glory”) to sizzling jams. They had interesting guests – Roseanne Cash and her husband and longtime creative partner John Leventhal, along with the expected sit-in from opener Charles Bradley and members of his Extraordinaires – and carved out time for key members to do their thing, especially Kofi Burbridge and saxophonist Kebbi Williams. They had a new song to try on – a groovy gospel-rocker called “Laugh About It” which will be a repertoire staple in no time. And if you were a fan of TTB’s forays into Mad Dogs & Englishmen territory, this was your night, with four selections from that catalog making the cut in a just- shy-of-two-hours set.
TTB isn’t without downside, and this Beacon run has thus far revealed two cracks in the finish. The first is deference to guests, and while welcoming guest performers has yielded some great moments – Roseanne backing up Susan on “Angel From Montgomery” after turning the band honky-tonk for Ray Price’s “Heartaches By the Number”; Bradley turning on the James Brown, complete with cape and hip-swivels – it further spreads out a show that has a pretty eclectic musical span already. The second is the creep of familiarity; hearing some of these songs and their expected asides for the umpteenth time convinces the listener TTB’s become too knowable.
But you have to admire what they’ve built. Quietly, TTB’s been changing its lineup; Saunders Sermons and Maurice Brown are gone, Alecia Chakour (vocals), Ephraim Owens (trumpet) and Elizabeth Lea (trombone) all recently joined. There are interesting throwbacks here – Trucks threw in a nifty “Sahib Teri Bandi” jam on the back of “Idle Wind” – and new jamming ideas there. Above all there are the band namesakes, who have learned ever more when to blend in and when to dominate. Susan at times was merely a backup singer or supportive guitarist; at others, such as “The Letter” and “The Sky Is Crying,” she sucked up all the available oxygen. And what more can be said about Trucks and his titanic talents? In stage presence terms, he has the least pronounced personality of anyone up there, and then when it comes time for another patented Trucks paint-peeler solo, it’s like he’s the only one up there. Tonight’s new Trucks classics were in “Darlin’ Be Home Soon” and “The Storm” among others. Take your pick, though – he’s never not going to blow your hair back.
Set: Made Up Mind, Laugh About It, The Letter, Darlin’ Be Home Soon, Sticks & Stones, Heartaches by the Number^, Angel From the Montgomery^, The Sky Is Crying, Heart of Gold#, Please Please Please#, Bound for Glory, Idle Wind > Sahib Teri Bandi > drums > jam > The Storm
Encore: Space Captain
^ w/Roseanne Cash (vocals) and John Leventhal (guitar)
# w/Charles Bradley (vocals) and members of the Extraordinaires on guitar and horns
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