Done Somebody Wrong
Come & Go Blues
Every Hungry Woman
Dusk Till Dawn
Low Down Dirty Mean
You Don’t Love Me (w/David Grissom)
The Sky is Crying
Long Black Veil
Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home
Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad? >
Elizabeth Reed > bass > drums > Liz (conclusion)
(e) Whipping Post
I think last night, the MVP would have been Gregg. Tonight it was almost certainly a “Warren show.”
No preamble, the band steps right into ‘Done Somebody Wrong,” Derek playing slide licks, Warren offering up a toasty solo. “Come and Go Blues” is bright and colorful. Then “Black Hearted Woman,” unusually early in the set, turns things up to 10; the band generates some serious heat. Oteil throws down with his thumb. Warren crackles as he and Derek square off on the extended outro, both of them spraying white hot bullets
Tonight Warren offers up “Dusk Till Dawn,” his new tune, in his “four songs in” slot. There’s a brief bass solo between Derek’s and Warren’s runs; Warren pleads and cries, working a lengthy, spectacular solo on the back end of the song. This is now the second time I’ve heard it; “Dusk Till Dawn” is sort of like a Warren version of “Desdemona,” at least structurally, and as the band finds it’s way in this song I think it’s going to be a solid piece in the setlist…
Next up is “Low Down Dirty Mean,” which hasn’t been played in 21 years (almost exactly); Marc is wailing on the tambourine like Betty from the Archies(!) Gregg’s vocals are fierce; the band is clearly tickled by this tune playing it all easy breezy. It’s a blues that just rolls off them, easy as pie, but fully infused with joy, and a highlight.
“Standback” features the smoky one-chord outro vamp. Then David Grissom joins on guitar. The last time I saw Grissom with this band, it pissed me off, because he was sitting in for Dickey at Jones Beach in 1993 (and besides, it poured). Tonight though it was fun to see him, on what is basically a “Southbound”-style rave-up run through “You Don’t Love Me.”
“The Sky is Crying” is a highlight. Warren plays the straight blues; soon he’s almost too big for the form, spilling out over the sides of the song. Is Warren Haynes the best living blues guitar player, I find myself wondering… I don’t know who’s better… Derek’s chording eggs him on, with a right hand slicing down repeatedly, almost too fast to see. Then Derek steps forward to solo, takes it way down, then turns it into a happy dance, Warren chording behind him. Derek pulls an ovation from the crowd as he hands the baton to Warren, who sings the final verse. There have been a lot of blues tonight… then a brisk “Revival,” with Warren quoting both “Mountain Jam” and “Fly Me o the Moon” during the extended instrumental midsection.
Gregg opens set two on acoustic guitar for “Long Black Veil,” a song associated with the Band which he sings on the recent Levon Helm tribute record. Derek takes a nice pretty solo early; Warren looks to Gregg for direction on the vocals, it’s a tentative take, but then Derek chimes like he’s ringing a bell. Then Oteil and the drummers whip up a blue, bubbling funk that becomes “Feel Like Breaking Up Someone’s Home.” Derek stings while Warren leads the band through a dark, steamy stew of blues funk. It’s big, boastful fun and a highlight, more Warren, more blues.
Then “Dreams.” It hits perfectly. When this song is good, I find myself drifting through the caverns of my own mind, and tonight is no exception, so I haven’t got much narrative for you, save to say that Warren is dreamy and thrilling (most of the times I open my eyes, that’s him soloing.) Then “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?”, in the same ethereal head space; Derek and Warren soar above those major seventh chords on the two-chord vamp that accompanies the chorus; Derek in particular is airy and exquisite. Then as the song tapers off the band turns to face Butch, sitting center on the back line, for what we know will be a crash into “Liz Reed.” It’s a high octane take; Gregg actually solos during his section, before falling back into the organ part that pushes the song’s story arc forward. Warren plays juicy, purple lines, then trades runs with Oteil; all the soloists are avoiding the Liz Reed melodic cliches, making for an adventurous take. Some serious Warren/Oteil heat is generated over on the right side of the stage, leading into the closing licks that clear the way for the bass and drum interlude… Oteil and the drummers are left on stage, Oteil zeroes in on melodic phrases, then bends and twists them to his will, poor Marc valiantly racing to keep up. Then a solid, “flowy” drum section, borrowing from the groove Oteil has laid down. Soon the band is back on for the dash to the close.
It’s Saturday night, so a “Whipping Post” encore comes as no surprise. There’s some pretty Warren Haynes tone poetry over a soft bed of drums and organ, then a big, furious finish, full and vibrating.
Solid show, lots of blues, lots of Warren. The first weekend is on the books, an interesting start, some nice surprises. Let’s see where this carnival goes next.