Tedeschi Trucks Band’s sold out, three night run at Boston’s Orpheum Theater was an excellent bookend for a year that has been an emotional rollercoaster for the revue. 2017 saw the band continue to fill theaters for nights at a time and capped things off with another Grammy nomination. On the other side of the spectrum. Keyboardist Kofi Burbridge suffered a heart attack and the deaths of Gregg Allman, Butch Trucks and Col. Bruce Hampton hit incredibly close to home. Derek Trucks shared his feelings on the matter with Glide for a forthcoming feature, but throughout three nights in Boston it was clear the band was looking forward to moving on to 2018.
Glide Magazine was in attendance for the first and last nights of the run and while they always manage to impress a crowd with airtight musicianship, there was a greater emphasis on abstract improvisation that felt like a bit of homage to Gregg and Butch and the legacy of the Allman Brothers Band. It was hard to listen to these moments and not think of Derek and Warren Haynes going head to head on “Dreams,” a song that was one of the most effective jamming vehicles for ABB.
In addition to numerous percussion segments throughout the weekend, there were several moments throughout the run where the 11-piece act went off the deep end, building up a Beatles-esque Wall of Sound that showcased TBB exploring territory they didn’t touch when they played the Orpheum last winter.
Derek and Susan started off their residency before their first set even began. During the opening slot by North Mississippi Allstars, Susan came out to jam with frontman Luther Dickenson and his boys before she exited stage right. A moment or so later, Derek subbed in for her and played along with Dickenson with an ease that said everything the audience needed to know about their longtime friendship. Following a cover of John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery” that segued into Jerry Garcia’s “Sugaree,” Dickenson joined TTB for a handful of tunes that was easily the highlight of the first night. Dickenson capped off his sit-in with a take on the ABB staple “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More.”
Plenty of big names in Derek Trucks’ shoes shy away from material they’d played in the previous band where they’d established themselves. Until recently, TTB never dug deep into the ABB catalogue, but on all three nights, TTB performed ABB material. Their first night consisted of one long set following their opening act and for the next two nights, ticket holders were treated to full two sets of TTB. The hardest rockin’ moment of the run came when TTB closed Night Three’s second set with a version of “Whipping Post” that picked up right where “The Storm” left off. On the latter, Susan Tedeschi busted out all the stops and shredded through a solo with her guitar behind her head. Trucks is almost unanimously considered the better guitar player but even he’s never pulled off a move like that.
Unlike numerous bands in their scene, TTB doesn’t do a three-set blowout on New Years Eve. The last two years they’ve played a few shows in Boston before enjoying the end of the year at home with their families. During their last encore of the run, Susan and Kofi shared the stage for a take on Leon Russell’s “A Song For You.” It’s a reflective ballad that meditates on life and love, and in light of the year they’ve had, partnered by their friendship with the late-Leon Russell, the song choice was the perfect sendoff. It’d been a challenging year of unfathomable proportions but Derek, Susan, Kofi and the rest of the Tedeschi Trucks Band brought their 2017 to a close on a crisp night in Boston that brought with it a promise of a smoother year to come.