Review: Tedeschi Trucks Band just keeps getting better
Updated 7 a.m.
ALBANY The problem with the Tedeschi Trucks Band is you don’t get enough Derek Trucks, and you don’t get enough Susan Tedeschi. Of course that’s a lose-lose attitude, because most in the filled Palace Sunday night seemed to see it the exact opposite way and relished whatever they got from both leaders.
For those who come to see Trucks light it up — that is, put chills down your spine like very few musicians can do — they got it. Sunday night was the final stop of the tour — their last show of the year — and Trucks unloaded on the second and third songs to get that work done early. He did this again a few more times later in the show.
They opened with George Harrison’s “Wah Wah,” a perfect Trucks cover — upbeat, exciting and a hint of a spiritual side. Tedeschi sang lead here, but backup singer Mike Mattison, the lead singer to the Derek Trucks Band, handled the second half of the tune with his soulful roars.
They followed with the funky “Don’t Let Me Slide,” where Trucks attacked like a monster. You forget how great he is (ranked No. 16 on Rolling Stone magazine’s top 100 of all time, and this will only rise with time).
Next came “Midnight in Harlem,” a smooth, soulful platform for Tedeschi to ease out her sweet side, which she did before turning up her internal volume dial.
With 11 band members, it’s a heavy group, and the two leaders try to spread the wealth, probably to a fault. The three horns get their spotlight moments, as did Kofi Burbridge on keys, and then two drummers. Two drummers needed for this set up? While they create momentum and energy — there is no stopping them when they get going — it takes away from the group’s ability to make quick turns. It’s worth mentioning that this cracker-jack group is racially diverse — still not a given today, believe it or not — though only one woman, its co-leader.
Tedeschi played her one guitar solo toward the middle of the show. Boy, you forget that she can play too, and she brought everyone to their feet. While there were dancers along the edges and in the back, the audience stayed in their seats.
Bass player George Porter Jr., from the Meters (replacing regular bassist Oteil Burbridge), sang “Just Kissed My Baby,” and then the Meters’ funky “Ain’t No Use.” While they pulled it off, the TTB is not a funk band and you felt it when they hit the next tune, “You Get What You Deserve.” with Mattison singing lead. Here, the whole band cooked, Trucks flying over his strings, climbing up the scale with each round till he was screeching again, his slide hand zipping up and down the neck. He’s something.
They slowed it down with Tedeschi singing a beautiful “Old Time Lovin,” her voice filling the house while the band faded out behind her. Then came Elmore James’ “The Sky Is Crying,” sweet spot blues tune for the group. This is where they belong and they showed us such Sunday night.
Then came a Stevie Wonder cover from his Motown days, which was fun and got some more people off their seat, then their own tune “Bound for Glory.”
It’s a pleasure to see talented players like these playing authentic, important music, and having commercial success, not a typical combo. It’s safe to say there’s a lot of miles in both leaders, whether they travel together or apart next year, it will be good and likely keep getting better.