Eric Burdon

May 19, 2013
The Egg
Albany, NY

Review by David Gardiner
Photos by Maria Younghans

It's getting harder to find good live music from the 60s, but it’s out there. Some of the best of that decade’s British Invasion classics was performed by the legendary Eric Burdon with his competent band at one of my favorite venues, the Egg.

The audience was treated to an amazing set, starting out with a hit from early 1967, "When I Was Young," recorded with the "New Animals," a group Burdon assembled to continue making music after several years trying to keep the original band together.

Perhaps Burdon's greatest talent lies in getting quality musicians together to help play the songs of his legacy live. His voice is a gift from God, and still has the same raw energy of years ago. When they played one of my all time favorites from the summer of 1966, "Inside Looking Out," the band was tight and Burdon seemed more youthful than I expected after watching videos on YouTube for 'Til Your River Runs Dry, the album Burdon is touring behind.

"Water," the first song from the album to be played that night was next. This group of musicians — all now based in Southern California. As a resident of Southern California for many years, I could relate to the concerns about the water needed by all of humanity.

"Spill the Wine," from Eric Burdon Declares War (1970), lacked nothing thanks to the eight-piece band. With two keyboard players at each side of the stage, they were able to create whatever sound needed. "Wait," another track from the new record written by Burdon and Terry Wilson, resonated well with the crowd.

Another newer one was "Black Dog," originally recorded with the Greenhornes in Nashville and released on the 2012 four-song EP, Eric Burdon & The Greenhornes. Burdon and his band rocked their way into "Bo Diddley Special," also penned by the singer and Wilson. This tribute is as natural as Burdon himself, who has often paid homage to musicians from the 50s and 60s. In fact, I saw him bow down at the feet of John Lee Hooker on stage in San Diego.

Another favorite of mine with an energetic arrangement was "It's My Life," released by the original Animals in the autumn of 1965. This anthem, presented to the Animals by producer Mickie Most, transported the Egg crowd back in time. Continuing on that path, Burdon announced the next song as one he "took from Nina Simone," the classic "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," enhanced by double guitars, incredible drums and percussion, and Burdon shaking tambourine and getting the crowd to respond "Oh Lord, Please..." These songs were polished with ferocious energy and you could see the fun and feel the love that each musician has for the Animals hits.

"Before You Accuse Me," a bluesy Bo Diddley song that closes out the new album, was well received. It was followed by the powerful "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place," another song brought to the Animals by Most and the first hit for the group after the departure of keyboard player Alan Price in 1965. Burdon and his current band churned this rocker into a vehicle for the singer to chant "No more war" and "We've got to live together sisters and brothers." His shirt emblazoned with a large peace sign, Burdon rolled into a great track from the new record, "River Is Rising." Written with drummer and co-producer Tony Braumaugh, the song has a swampy bayou feel and I love the video on YouTube.

Burdon's voice sounded fresh on “Crawling King Snake,” a staple of his live act since the early 80s and a perfect showcase of the man’s pipes. The bass and rhythm set up the boogie from "mama please don't go" to a wonderful acoustic guitar intro played by Eric McFadden on the smash from the first record by the Animals, "House of the Rising Sun." Knowing the importance of this song to his fans, Burdon gave it his all, bringing the crowd to their feet. He looked happy as he left the stage, taking the crowd at the Egg back in time with a peak into concerns for the future.

Burdon returned for an encore of "Red Young" and "Nobody Wants You When You're Down and Out." The singer and his band followed up with a red hot version of "Whole Lotta Shakin" seguing "Boom Boom," a John Lee Hooker song the Animals covered in 1965 and tonight propelling the driving rhythm of this incredible band. Like Burdon had done when I saw him with Jon Lee Hooker, I had to bow to these boogie chillin’.

I’ve been an avid fan of Eric Burdon's music for the last 50 years, and have seen the singer in numerous live performances — some with Robby Krieger of the Doors, some with keyboard great Brian Auger — since the late 80s, I would advise anyone to make the pilgrimage to see this legend and pick up a copy of 'Til Your River Runs Dry on vinyl. It sounds great!

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