Partway through the Kings of Leon’s 2007 performance at Bonnaroo, the sound unexpectedly cut out. Caleb Followill, the turbulent and often unpredictable frontman of the group, threw down his microphone and stormed off stage. The Kings of Leon singer did return eventually but that image of a temper tantrum from one of Rock n’ Roll’s biggest names is forever ingrained in my mind.
Tedeschi Trucks Band‘s Sunday night show at Arlene Schnitzer Hall was an amazing display of musicianship. The group’s highly touted art of bringing music to a extraordinary level exceeded all expectations. The evening, however, did not go off without a hitch. In a night plagued with technical issues and what even appeared at one point to be a broken string from Derek Trucks’ guitar hitting singer Susan Tedeschi in the face, the professionalism of the band ultimately overrode the unforeseen and unexpected obstacles.
A joyful rendition of Harry Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talkin” was the perfect start to the evening. Susan Tedeschi’s gritty yet soothing voice has the ability to pierce through the ears of men like a lady siren. That paired with the majestic guitar playing of husband Derek Trucks and you have a musical-spiritual experience like none other. Brothers Oteil and Kofi Burbridge played well off each other throughout the night. Kofi’s modest organ playing teased the audience while Oteil’s fluttering bassline carried each song stronger than the last.
TTB is orchestrated beautifully. The musicians’ willingness to take a step back so that others may shine is unique. But it’s hard to deny Trucks’ role on stage as the driving force. While blowing minds with his slide-guitar skills, the musician stays humble and focused. For this writer, though, Tedeschi’s guitar playing was the biggest surprise. With so much focus on Trucks’ mastery of the instrument, Tedeschi’s talent is often overlooked. Tedeschi’s spectacular guitar solo during “That Did It” lit up the audience.
The band was forced to take a ten minute break only five songs into the night when crackling and popping from the speakers eventually led to a complete disabling of the speaker system. But once the eleven musicians were back on stage, the energy picked up exactly where it left off. “Wade In The Water” was rich in the delta blues spirit. Tedeschi’s husky vocals playing against Trucks’ haunting slide guitar made for a worthy version of the gospel number.
Up until this point in the evening, the horn presence was minimal. I along with a few others around me found the horn players constant exit and re-entry from the stage during the show a bit distracting. However, it did lend to a certain loosely organized, New Orleans vibe that certainly made the environment relaxing. Trumpet player, Maurice Brown displaying his impressive chops in “Uptight (Everything Is Alright)” is certainly worth noting.
During “Space Captain,” technical issues once again ensued when Tedeschi’s microphone briefly failed to produce any sound. Once the band reconvened onstage for the encore of “Love Has Something Else To Say,” Tedeschi at one point appeared to be struck on the side of her face by a broken string from Trucks’ guitar. Rubbing her cheek in dismay, the stunned singer quietly finished out the song.
Judging by the response of the audience as they left the venue, the few minor glitches didn’t appear to impact anyone’s experience. In fact, the Tedeski Trucks Band prevailed once again in providing their fans with a memorable evening. I just hope Susan’s face is alright.
Setlist: Everybody’s Talkin, Ball and Chain, Bound For Glory, Get What You Deserve, Shelter, Rollin’ & Tumblin’, Wade In The Water, Mahjoun, Nobody’s Free, That Did It, Uptight, Space Captain
Encore: Love Has Something Else To Say