This is the sixth year that the Tedeschi Trucks Band has taken up residency at New York’s Beacon Theater and with every passing year the band simply gets better; moving from a tight (if semi-bland) outfit into one that is becoming must see for any fan of live music. On this gorgeous fall Tuesday night of October 4th in the middle of their nearly sold out six show run, the 12 piece welcomed Dave Mason to open (and close) before delving into two plus hours of their well oiled rock and soul review.
Mason’s four piece band opened the show with a set focusing heavily on his Traffic period, “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and an extended light “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” were highlights.The group also touched on his solo hit “We Just Disagree” before closing with a tight cover of “All Along The Watchtower”. Mason was in fine form and proved a capable compliment to the large ensemble taking the stage next.
Opening with a muscle car powered blues cover of ZZ Top’s “Going Down To Mexico” the band’s set exploded loudly as Mike Mattison took lead vocals while Susan Tedeschi fired off a powerful first solo that shook and rumbled. While the opener blazed, there were some sound issues and communication snafus between the group and the revved up crowd over the next few numbers. Tedeschi’s vocals and guitars seemed to have issues for “Laugh About It” and Trucks quieted the front row before his solo in “Let Me Get By”.
This minor glitches though were worked out when the band dropped the Leonard Cohen gospel version of “Bird On A Wire” finding Tedeschi’s strongest vocal showing on the night. The players musical highlight came when the core of the band, Trucks, keyboardist Kofi Burbridge, drummers JJ Johnson and Tyler Greenwell followed bassist Tim Lefebvre’s lead as he dropped some bass bombs. Those recalled trumpeter Ephraim Owen as they delivered a take on Miles Davis “Bitches Brew” that was exploratory and revelatory. The crowd loves the bands soul/blues/OG-R&B playing, but by dropping in some extremely experimental jazz (while not a huge crowd pleaser) it shows the range and freedom this band can still explore. As Trucks gets further removed from the Allmans, he can branch out and that will only help this collection soar even higher.
The closest Trucks returned to the Brothers was during “Idle Wind”. Trucks delivered one of his (countless on the night) hair raising solos before dipping into a full on drum duet, before back out again. Each member shined at times on the night as this is truly a collective, but make no mistake the crowd is there to see Trucks wail and he got to partner up with guest Eric Krasno for a duel inside of Sly Stone’s “I Cannot Make It”.
The players wrapped up their main set with “I Want More” segueing into Santana’s “Soul Sacrifice” to close. Not content to end, the band came back for a ripping encore of “Night Time Is The Right Time” and welcomed out Dave Mason and his band back to lead a version of “Feelin’ Alright” capping off the evening. Overall the group still works best covering deep cuts next to classic rhythm and blues tracks, as most of their originals tend to tread the same ground, but they are still evolving and are damn sure worth riding along with on any night.