The bluesy rockers Big Head Todd & the Monsters brought their cool music to the Egg’s Hart Theater Friday night, their first time in the area in many years.
These are Colorado dudes from the ’80s who can jam, sing a funky tune, and still wear a hat and shades like hipsters.
Todd Park Mohr led the show on vocals and blues guitar. They played “Bittersweet” early, one of their bigger — and cooler — tunes. Pockets of the mostly-filled theater danced at their seats. The title captures the tone of most of their songs, and Mohr has a sincerity to his voice, not far from a Counting Crows feel.
You don’t expect Mohr to take off on guitar and he doesn’t every tune, but when he does, it’s good. On “Bittersweet,” he led the others — Brian Nevin on drums, Rob Squires on bass, and Jeremy Lawton on keyboards — through a straight-ahead blues jam for a few choruses.
The band did a similar groove on the sadder “Crazy Mary.”
For Gazette music writer Brian McElhiney's preview of this show, click here.
The group went to Columbine High School together in Colorado, then to college in Boulder. They’ve been together since 1986. They’ve done a lot in that time, some up and some not-so-up. Friday night they gave us much of their range.
They played “Tangerine,” which they contributed on a Led Zeppelin tribute album. They played some old Robert Johnson, which came off their 2011 album “100 Years of Robert Johnson.”
We got some Steely Dan-like jazz — but cooler — during “It’s Alright.” Mohr talked through the verses, as he typically does, and then rises with the band for the chorus. His understated bluesy solo on this one was all coolness.
While he plays a decent blues harp, he blows a sound very similar to Bruce Springsteen, though with fewer chords and more notes. You heard it clearly in “Beautiful,” which has that great line, “you’re so beautiful when you’re wrong.”
Nothing amazing happened during the New Orleans tune “Groove Me.” They simply kept their head down and played the tune with good heart and moved it with good feel. “Broken Hearted Savior” came at the back of the show, and by that point the energy was high and the whole place was in on it together.
These guys play with nothing to prove, no forcing anything, no chip on the shoulder, no formula, no tricks. They just do their thing without fanfare. It’s well-worn now, and their audience has worn with them. While they may have filled the Palace back in the day, they’re filling the Egg now and they’ve got to be playing better than ever.
Leroy Justice, a young band from New York City, opened with a fine southern-rock kind of set, attacking tunes with a “Whipping Post” aggression, and laying back at other times with a Levon Helm type groove. Still finding themselves, these five guys were good, and the crowd gave it back to them properly. Front man Jason Gallagher told us that they were a close second for the theme song to an HBO series — rock band fortune is fickle. Their song writing and playing is strong and I’ll bet they score something decent soon.