Learning to Live Together
It could have been an easy call for New Yorkers to stay home, avoid major gathering places, public transit and traffic checkpoints, on the eve of 10th anniversary of the World Trade Center attack. Yet looking around me during the sold out show in Manhattan’s Beacon Theater, it was clear that no one stayed home, every-seat was filled. That is until the Tedeschi Trucks Band hit the chorus of the second song in their set, a great cover of “Space Captain”, and the audience spontaneously got to their feet singing the refrain “learning to live together” and pretty much stayed on their toes until the end of the night.
I attended this show with no intention of reporting on it. I reviewed the TTB debut album Revelator earlier in the year, really loved it and just intended to sit back and enjoy without taking notes or photos. Arriving home it felt totally remiss to overlook the opportunity to comment on just how good the performance was.
Pass The Jam (on the left hand side)
Based on The Beacon presentation I can state with certainty that every song from the studio album has been eclipsed by its performance on stage; utterly elevated, transformed and liberated. The band is tight and intuitive, confident in its ability to expand and contract sections at will, unafraid to wind its way from swamp rock to outre jazz. It’s loose enough to give the jam fans a good dose of experimentation but not so jammy as to lose the intent of the song. All 11 musicians are at the top of their game both individually and as a unit. It was particularly fun to watch brothers Oteil and Kofi Burbridge (Bass and Organ, respectively) playing off each other at their end of the stage.
Throughout the night Derek coaxed searing then subtle lead lines out of his Gibson SG, sometimes teasing the audience with bits of familiar Allman’s melodies then aiming his sites on the heart of the sun for some modal John Coltrane like explorations. The unexpected segue between their rowdy rendition of Delaney and Bonnie’s “Coming Home” and the moody opening of “Midnight In Harlem” was breathtaking in its artfulness. Susan’s voice has taken on an extra level of soul and her evocative delivery sends shivers up your spine. “Until You Remember” and “Learn How to Love” were powerful and visceral, she appropriately offered “Shelter” as a prayer to New Yorkers at this time of memorial.
Funk Soul Brothers (and Sister)
Taking advantage of their full horn section TTB have internalized the deep funk of the 60’s and early 70’s making renditions of Sly and The Family Stone hits “Sing A Simple Song” and “I Want To Take You Higher” feel like their own. It doesn’t hurt to have singer Mike Mattison (whose own Scrapomatic opened the evening) channeling Sister Rose on the high end of the vocal range. Mike also shared a duet with Susan on the Derek and the Dominoes tune “Anyday”. A personal fave, Stevie Wonder’s 1966 hit “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)”, was another special surprise.
I doubt I will see a more cohesive or exciting performance this year or one more joyfully shared by the audience. If you have a chance to experience TTB as their tour continues don’t miss them.