The Egg box office got 500 calls on Wednesday begging for tickets to the Tedeschi Trucks Band in the (larger) Hart Theatre — days after it had sold out. Everybody knew it would be a hot show, but it was hotter than that.
The 11-piece band’s “Revelator” hit the charts hard, and it’s a good album. But they played its mostly just-average songs better on Wednesday. And they dusted off some surprising cover tunes, mostly from the soul pages of the rock ‘n’ roll songbook.
They started with “Don’t Let Me Slide” and “Until You Remember” from “Revelator,” and returned to the new album with “Midnight in Harlem” — probably its strongest number — after Muddy Waters’ classic “Rollin’ and Tumblin’.” Singer-guitarist Susan Tedeschi and guitarist husband Derek Trucks stood and delivered, front and center, with three horns, two drummers, two singers, bass and keyboards swirling behind them. Tedeschi’s voice had to cut through a lot, and did: When she knocked holes through the groove on “Remember,” everyone cheered.
She contributed less on guitar, thanks to persistent, annoying amp problems. Too bad: She played great on “That Did It.” Trucks always played great, plucking or flailing with his fingers and usually gliding a glass slide over the frets.
Late in a set of mostly originals in the Memphis or New Orleans styles, they tossed a wide curveball with the Lovin’ Spoonful’s wistful “Darlin’ Be Home Soon,” then got hyper and hot on Stevie Wonder’s “Uptight and Outta Sight” before closing with the original “Bound for Glory.”
The encores were vintage: Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’” and Sly Stone’s “Sing a Simple Song” and “I Want to Take You Higher.” They rocked hard, and they brought the funk for real.
A relatively new band, they didn’t always display the same fine-honed balance as the Allman Brothers (Trucks’ main band) or the Derek Trucks Band (his own crew over the past decade) — nor that of Stevie Wonder or Sly and the Family Stone. Trumpet, sax and trombone were sometimes hard to hear over the band’s rocking core. But when everything locked into place, the sonic soul force was formidable.
Tedeschi Trucks Band singer Mike Mattison opened with his blues band Scrapomatic — his huge voice framed in guitar-boogie shuffles by Paul Olson and Dave Yoke, drummer Tyler Greenwell joining later. “Alligator Love Cry” started their set with a swampy shuffle, “Killin’ Yourself on Purpose” was a Tom Waits-style drinker’s lament, then the next tune added both Greenwell and a scorching falsetto by Mattison.
“Horsemeat” warned about the hazards of L.A., “I Want the Truth” ebbed and flowed from an Allman-like lope into lurching A-B episodes, and “The Party’s Over” cruised on an easy stroll beat before “I Just Wanna Hang Around with You” rocked to a big finish.
The bass-less lineup sounded anything but minimal, thanks to Olson’s solid chord-prodding, Yoke’s hot solos and Greenwell’s relentless kick-drum thump. But, despite the ingenious songs and forceful playing, Scrapomatic was all about Mattison’s great voice — a very satisfying opener.
The Tedeschi Trucks Band was all about Tedeschi’s voice, Trucks’ guitar and vintage grooves — a mighty headliner.
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