In recent interviews, Derek has said that he anticipates a significant number of fans will go to multiple nights, and so they planned to play unique sets each night. Glad to see they take their music seriously! And I was astounded to see that when I grabbed tickets for the Thursday show as soon as they went on sale, that I had gotten first row center tickets in the Orpheum!?! I've been there many times and never sat in good seats. We were very psyched.
Met Sarah and Dave after work, parked in their building, and then we headed over to the 21st Amendment for a nice bar dinner (noisy and funky as always in there), and then mosied on down to the Common. What was happening that evening was the unveiling/lighting of Boston's annual Christmas present from Nova Scotia, a huge spruce tree. For those not familiar with this tradition, please read about it here.
After touring around the Common, the tree with festivities going on around it, and the Frog Pond skating rink, we made our way back uphill on Tremont and slid down Hamilton Place towards the maw of the Orpheum, old Boston all over. The place has been cleaned up some since when I spent the night in that alley waiting for tickets to Garcia Saunders in 1975, but there are probably still rats lurking in the shadows.
Grabbed a beer and headed to our front row center seats, which we found in as good shape as the rest of the theater. Not much leg room, a speaker was right in front of us and cut off a bit of our view when we were sitting down, and there were signs of decay everywhere. But what was I complaining about, we were almost as close to Jorma when he came out as when we'd seen him recently at the Bull Run, and when TTB came out, it was like having our own Tiny Desk Concert in their living room.
Jorma came out in a stylish sport coat, black jeans, and t-shirt, and was as stellar as ever. Here's his set:
Come Back Baby
Watch the North Wind Rise
Death Don't Have No Mercy
San Francisco Bay Blues
How Long Blues
River Of Time
I Am the Light Of This World
Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning
Wow, long first set! And this was transcendent stuff. As stated previously, I feel that listening to Jorma play Come Back Baby is one of the keys to civilization, and his fingering was exceptional. He's been working on that song for a while and pretty much has it down.
Another very high highlight was Sea Child. At some times in his set he sounded like a symphony with just his guitar, and you could feel Jack pounding away on the bottom end, though he was just one of the ghosts flying around Jorma on his small metal chair. San Francisco Bay Blues was another fantastic cover, with Jorma growling out the lines in funky syncopation like some old blues guitarist. I wonder when he realized that he'd spent his whole life admiring the old blues musicians and now he was one so he'd better start acting like it?
Just ridiculous that there was the standard amount of first-set chatter going on in the theater, but a good number of us there were enthralled even so. There were shouts of delight from all over the theater at his phrasing and skill, hopefully startling the fuck out of the chattering idiots. Between sets I actually heard several people ask, "Who was that opening?"
After Good Shepherd we all stood up (those who were listening that is) and applauded, but Jorma apologetically told us, "Two more!" He could have played a lot longer as far as I was concerned. As usual, Jorma was out there with two guitars and spent most of the time on his gut-string wonder, but when he picked up the steel-string beauty for the last song, no question but that we were about to be blown away with Water Song. I think that means he's done Come Back Baby and Water Song every time I've seen him, and that's fine with me.
Ran into famous Jorma fan, PeterP, at the break and we gushed about what we'd just seen. Talk about playing with the old powers!
As mentioned, the Orpheum is ridiculously dirty, small, and cramped. The lobby between sets was scary it was so packed. A guy in the beer line in front of me was freaking out because of the high-strung crowd, and needed a little encouragement from those of us around him, especially when a lazy beer vendor snarled at him that he was in the wrong line. He was about to explode but we talked him down and he got his beer. I got mine and made it back to our seats, and soon all 12 of the Tedeschi Trucks Band came out on stage and lined up right in front of me!
Hopefully I can restrict describing this next incident to one paragraph. Dave and I wanted to stand because a) it was a rock concert, b) the speaker was right in our faces and if we stood up the sound was much better, and c) sitting down we couldn't see Kofi Burbridge, who was as excellent as always that night. Everyone in the theater was standing except for some people in the row behind us, and they felt they could demand that we sit down. One person asked Dave with a "please" that he sit down, so he did. But one guy six seats to my left (that is, I wasn't even in his sight line) poked me firmly in the butt with his cane to get me to sit! I sure let the people around us know at the next song break that he had done that, and he was later confronted by security.
OK, another paragraph on this topic. I was heartened to get a lot of support from many people around us who had seen the incident, and who came up to me afterwards and told me they couldn't believe the guy had done that. "Has he ever BEEN to a rock concert before??" was the sentiment from person after person. The security guy who'd confronted him actually came up to me also at the end of the concert and said, "I told that senile old guy to stop poking people with his cane and he just glared at me!" One person told me he had heard him say, "I didn't jab him, I just poked him!" Oh well, I was steamed up and embarrassed pretty good and I sat for about half the concert, but then I stood up again and loved it. Everybody in the second row left sometime during the set and now everyone was standing ... good riddance to them.
Anyway ... again, there I was with the whole fucking Tedeschi Trucks Band playing and singing their hearts out right on front of me. They opened with an incendiary vocal by Mike Mattison, who came down off his riser for that. Susan took most of the leads from there, though Mark Rivers got one late in the set and one was a duet between Mike and Alecia Chakour. As mentioned, Kofi Burbridge was just excellent, stamping every song with his powerful organ fills. I could mention everybody in the band, they were all playing fantastically.
But as you might imagine, this was another transcendent experience in a large part because of Derek Fucking Trucks. I'd seen him play many times, but this time he was just 20 feet in front of us and his powerful technique and volume were dominating our world. He's a bit of a stone face when he performs, but on this night we were close enough to see the glances he shot around the stage to keep his band together, everyone on the stage was hanging on his little winks, nods, and quick smiles.
As mentioned before, they were determined to play three nights of non-repeats, and so did a few songs that perhaps could have been rehearsed a bit more. But we loved it, and Susan was delightfully embarrassed when she forgot some words. Dave got a setlist from a roadie at the end, and here's what it says:
Get What You Deserve
Laugh About It
Don't Drift Away
Within You Without You
Just As Strange
Bird On a Wire
Color Of the Blues
Key To the Highway
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free
How Blue Can You Get?
Let Me Get By
It Ain't Easy
Space Captain/Delta Lady
Here's an excellent review of the show, and I think that's my profile blocking the camera in his pictures. Good!
Confabbed with people who wanted to tell me what a jerk that guy had been, got the setlist, and finally pushed our way out through the cramped lobby and up Hamilton Place. Not far back to the garage, and got home and in bed by midnight.