Sunday, November 24, 2013

Great Tedeschi Trucks Band, lousy auditorium

After seeing the Tedeschi Trucks Band two+ years ago and then listening to their releases since then, I consider them at the top of current blues-rock, and so was very surprised to see they were playing the small Lynn Auditorium on November 23rd.  So were a lot of other people I guess, it sold out quickly.

We made our way into deepest darkest Lynn on a Saturday evening and found a parking space with a bit of difficulty.  We'd gotten good reviews of the hall from a friend who'd been there recently, but we had a much different experience, probably because we were sitting under the overhang of the balcony, rather than in the balcony itself.  The sound was probably fine out in the open, but under the balcony it was boomy and echoey, and during the opening act it was deafening in there from everyone talking and getting to their seats.  I looked around to see who was talking and no one right around us was, the sound was coming from far away, and it was very distracting.

Also, the sightlines were impossible!  We were in the 24th row (and were under the balcony, that's how small the hall was), but could barely see the stage through the widebodies in front of us.  It was sold out and so we were packed in, but there was barely any pitch to the orchestra floor and when someone 5 rows in front of us stood up, it totally blocked our view (especially when he was big as a house).  Everyone in the place stood up and sat down like jack-in-the-boxes all through the concert, trying to see.  Luckily the guy in front of me had gotten his hair cut recently so that gave me a couple of extra millimeters to peep at the stage.  Sarah just gave up, she could barely see Susan Tedeschi when everyone was sitting down and had just no chance to see a thing when they were standing.  Oh well ... be forewarned about the Lynn Auditorium.

Having said all that, the concert was still fantastic.  Jamie Woods opened and ripped off some soulful blues, accompanied by a single electric guitarist.  After a long break TTB came out ... all 11 of them, and somehow crammed onto the small stage and blew the house down.  The backup vocalists were on risers behind the horn players over on the far right, Susan was to the left of them, Derek next to her, the drummers on risers behind them, and the bassist and keyboardist/flute player way over to the left.  With the seeing difficulties, there was no way to watch them all at once, even on such a small stage, but you could hear them all at once at least ... by the end of the show the sound guys (sitting a few rows behind us) had balanced it out pretty well.

And they were just incredible, phenomenal, and every other superlative you could pull out.  Derek played some of the best guitar I've ever witnessed, Susan kept bellowing the blues like you wouldn't believe (belying her little girl speaking voice), Tyler Greenwell and J.J. Johnson rocked the whole North Shore on drums and percussion, Kofi Burbridge was excellent on keys and flute, Mike Mattison and Mark Rivers were riveting on high lonesome soulful backup vocals (and took a few leads), the horn section of Kebbi Williams (sax), Maurice Brown (trumpet), and Saunders Sermons (trombone and vocals) was more than worth the price of admission themselves, and the day's bass player was thundering.

They opened with the show-stopping Made Up Mind from their new record, covered several other tunes from the record and went deep into the rock/blues catalog too.  They did a beautiful, moving, Midnight in Harlem with a 5-minute guitar/organ/percussion introduction, a long, inspiring Bound For Glory, and a cover of Prine's Angel From Montgomery that Tedeschi possibly sang better than Bonnie ever did.  AND ... just to show how far out and far deep they could go, when they were jamming on the bridge Susan stepped up to the mike and ripped off, "When they come to take you down, when they bring that wagon round..."  A verse of the Dead's Sugaree in the middle of Angel From Montgomery?!?!  This just emphasized how masterful this band was.

After one long, long set of killer blues from a killer band that filled the stage and filled our eardrums, they came back out for a two-song encore (Susan thanked her many family members in attendance), and then faded off into the night.  We made it out of there and out of Lynn after a little difficulty (but before most of the crowd apparently), and then back home.  DSO  tonight!

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