Glen David Andrews swaggered on to the red-lit, burgundy leather walled stage of Rockwood Music Hall in NYC to the crescendo of his backing band looking like a prize fighter ready to defend himself. Launching into “Moving Up, “ he quickly stripped down from his shades, gold chains, hoodie and cap, to a simple black t-shirt and let it be known he was going to let his voice and his new songs do the talking for him. He then launched into a tight 90-minute set of songs mostly off his soon-to-be-released album, “Redemption. “
Occasionally picking up his trombone, but mainly demonstrating his extensive vocal range, he crooned, roared, or sang his way through the set including a heavy NY to Nola, a gentle but building Chariot and a funky “Bad by Myself. “ Newly sober, he let different influences shine through on his songs, touching on his battle with addiction on such songs as “Lower Power and Surrender.” A highlight was his version of “You Don’t Know,” a song he wrote and recorded with Galactic on their album and recorded with Anders Osborne for “Redemption.” And with a voice built for gospel, Andrews offered a solid version of Mahalia Jackson’s “Didn’t it Rain.”
Throughout the show, all eyes were on Andrews. The well-rehearsed band keyed off his leads, adding a full and heavy sound to his deep voice, and clearly enjoying themselves. His stage presence commanded attention as he seemed unable to be contained. Clearly constrained by the small stage, he frequently teetered out to the edge seeking the approval of the packed club. Twice he stepped out into the crowd, initially parading through with his powerful voice booming Allen Toussaint’s “Southern Nights”a cappella and a second time on trombone with half the band following. He did let his band shine through, with blistering solos by James Martin on sax and inviting a few guest artists on stage including Jonathan Russell on violin.
The set ended with the band still playing as Andrews left the stage. The rest of the musicians followed one by one, leaving sax player Martin on stage in a thundering solo, bathed in glowing crimson light, an ember of the smoking hot show. After the encore, Andrews ended the show as it started, putting back on the adornment he had dumped to the back of the stage, and triumphantly sauntered off stage.
photos by Gerry Hardy