The Tedeschi Trucks Band and opening act Alan Evans’ Playonbrother flooded the Bryce Jordan Center with sonic jams Tuesday night.
Alan Evans’ Playonbrother opened its set in fairly atypical fashion. Rather than launching immediately into music, drummer/singer Alan Evans (of funk-jazz trio Soulive) nonchalantly bantered with the audience and declared he forgot his setlist. The apparent disorganization in between songs led to a comfortable rapport with the audience.
Evans’ voice carried incredible strength while he delivered a thunderous performance on the drum kit. The solid three-piece — Evans, organist Kris Yunker and guitarist Danny Mayer — demonstrated a carefree attitude and laid-back nature throughout its performance. The musicians took the stage for an intensity-filled jam-fest and seemed to disappear as soon as they arrived.
After the trio left the stage, the crowd buzzed with anticipation for the reason for the evening . Finally, a sea of flannel and facial hair (mostly on the men) shifted to unveil the main event: the Tedeschi Trucks Band.
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A wall of sound cocooned the audience in funky rhythms and infectious melodies set against a musical tapestry woven from southern Delta blues.
Opening with Motown hit “Are You Ready?” the answer was a resounding yes as the band rolled easily into “Made Up Mind.” The Tedeschi Trucks Band demonstrated a solid low end with a thumpy bass and an equally impressive horn section packed with talent.
Singer-guitarist Susan Tedeschi’s smooth and sultry voice seduced the audience with her opening note. Her vocals conjured images of Janis Joplin belting from her gut, pushing every fiber of her being into each emotionally drenched pitch. Not to be outdone, backup singers formed a solid canvas for Tedeschi’s masterful vocal landscaping
Living legend and former Allman Brothers tour band member Derek Trucks on lead guitar delivered unbelievable licks and leads capable of raising rock ’n’ roll armies. Armed with superb technical skill, Trucks easily showcased that he’s the real deal, a virtuoso.
Humble in nature and reserved in stature, Trucks effortlessly graced the neck of the guitar like low-flying water fowl grazing the surface of a pristine lake without leaving a ripple. Simply put, you can take the brother out of the Allmans, but you’ll never take the Allman out of this brother.
Funky, relaxed vibes turned into hippie jam-fest grooves on a dime, and the audience strapped in for the ride. Riding tonal waves along smooth mood seas, the Tedeschi Trucks Band charted its own course as a force to be reckoned with. Chilled-out blues anthems seamlessly switched gears to uptempo staccatto-laden funk, proving the Tedeschi Trucks Band has the range to go and go.
The seemingly serene “Idle Wind” erupted into a powerhouse of soul and triumph and left the crowd hungry for more flute at a rock ’n’ roll show. The flute then led to a stunning synchronized (yes synchronized) drum solo. The two percussionists held down simultaneous drum beats all night.
In addition to being a great vocalist, Tedeschi has the lead-guitar chops to hang with anyone known in the business, including her husband. Covering blues classic “The Sky is Crying” with a bounced-up tempo somehow made it seem just as sad and desolate as when Stevie Ray Vaughan slowly belted it out decades ago. Tedeschi’s solos drew thunderous applause from the crowd, while Trucks laid down rhythm guitar to support his wife’s time in the six-string spotlight.
The band exceeded expectations at every turn and delivered one of the most memorable concerts in recent history. My only regret after seeing the Tedeschi Trucks’ live show is that I didn’t buy a ticket to see them again Thursday in Virginia.