Kirchen, friends go pedal-to-the-metal at The Linda

Bill Kirchen and his band Too Much Fun brought nearly the entire history of rock ’n’ roll with them

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For Gazette music writer Brian McElhiney’s preview of this show, click here.

Bill Kirchen and his band Too Much Fun brought nearly the entire history of rock ’n’ roll with them when they played The Linda Friday night.

Before a decent, but not full, crowd, the former Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen guitarist delivered a set that touched upon everything from blues to rockabilly to country to folk over the course of two sets and over two hours. And that’s not even counting the finale, when Kirchen took on the sounds and styles of everyone from Jimi Hendrix to The Beatles to Roy Orbison to The Sex Pistols.

Kirchen’s first set was heavy on cuts from last year’s “Word to the Wise,” an album consisting of duets with everyone from Elvis Costello to Kirchen’s former bandmate George Frayne, better known as Commander Cody. The criteria for the guests — all had to have played with Kirchen before in either a live or studio setting, “and were not dead yet,” he quipped.

Things kicked off with the energetic “Bump Wood,” in which drummer Jack O’Dell utilized sticks and brushes simultaneously to great effect. The album’s title track, written with Dan Hicks, followed in a jazzier vein, this time with bassist Maurice Cridlin taking a spotlight solo early on.

Throughout, these three made it all look ridiculously easy — and no one more so than Kirchen himself. The guitarist proved his mettle with solo after solo, scatting the notes he was playing verbatim on “Word to the Wise,” and turning in a weeping guitar performance on older song “Rocks into Sand.” On “Time Will Tell the Story,” his right-hand fingers moved deftly from the strings to the pickup selector switch, creating sounds that would seem to be impossible to make with a simple guitar such as a Telecaster.

Best of all in the first set, though, was the closing cover of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” which Kirchen and company turned into a storming rockabilly workout.

Things really took off during Act Two. After an inauspicious start, local rockers Mark Gamsjager and John Tichy (another former Airman) took the stage for a handful of numbers each. Gamsjager took the mike first for “All By Myself,” then the two overlapped on “What’s the Matter Now,” with each progressive number pushing the energy level up. Tichy then took over on the Buck Owens’ number “Crying Time” before the group launched into the evening’s finest moment — a ripping version of Commander Cody’s “Beat Me Daddy 8 to the Bar,” with solos from every musician onstage. The two later returned for the encore, as well.

The main set went on for four more songs, each retaining the high quality of what came before, but the energy level didn’t peak nearly so high until “Hot Rod Lincoln” to close out the main set. This was the number featuring the “cameos” from rock legends past and present, Kirchen handling various different styles with deft precision, as well as getting his guitar to imitate the sounds of horns honking, cars accelerating and sirens wailing.

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