Tedeschi Trucks Band

December 6, 2013
Orpheum Theatre
Los Angeles, CA

Review by Shawn Perry
Photos by Kimberly Annette

You are witnessing a true embodiment of magnificence and melody when you see a group of musicians coalesce and flow like Tedeschi Trucks Band. Led by the wife-and-husband duo of blues singer and guitarist Susan Tedeschi and slide guitar master Derek Trucks, the 11-piece band played a tight and steady two-hour set, the aroma of blues, soul and gospel slicing through the air and captivating the lofty confines of the intimate Orpheum Theatre.

Drummers Tyler Greenwell and J.J. Johnson, harmony singers Mike Mattison and Mark Rivers, keyboardist Kofi Burbridge, bassist Tim Lefebvre and a three-man horn section — Kebbi Williams on saxophone, Maurice Brown on trumpet and Saunders Sermons on trombone) — fill out the line-up with Tedeschi and Trucks out in front. Tonight, the set drew mostly from the band’s two albums: The 2011 Grammy-winning debut Revelator and its 2013 follow-up, Made Up Mind.

Trucks is a little more restrained with this band than he is with the Allman Brothers Band, but his virtuosity is ever present, omnipotent in virtually any context. There was the angelic, Eastern-flavored interlude — one part John Coltrane, one part Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan — he built before the lift-off of “Midnight In Harlem,” itself filled with crevices and caverns for Trucks’ nimble fingers to explore.

Be it spiritually charged, bluesy hymns like “Bound For Glory” or soulful and playful romps like “Part Of Me,” there’s no song Tedeschi’s voice cannot brighten and breathe life into. There’s a tinge of Bonnie Raitt with a little Janis Joplin, but she clearly has a style and delivery all her own. She simply rocks it on “The Storm,” which would have been a hit (without the extended, mind-numbing Trucks solo) in simpler times. And let’s not discount that Tedeschi is also a brilliant guitarist. Tonight, she occasionally stepped up with a sweet and blazing solo here and there, drawing enthusiastic marks at every turn.

As if the stage wasn’t crammed with enough talent, guitarist Doyle Bramhall II, a frequent collaborator of Tedeschi and Trucks (he’s credited a co-writer on “Part Of Me” and “All That I Need” from Made Up Mind, and played with Trucks in Eric Clapton’s band back in 2006), came up for a handful of numbers and added a few incendiary blues tones of his own and took the lead vocal on “St. James Infirmary,” which got extra sauce and sass from the horn section.

An encore of the Beatles’ “I’ve Got A Feeling” with Tedeschi and Tash Neal from the London Souls (who opened the show) trading vocals brought a light and celebratory mood to the room. They quickly fell into a spirited “Made Up Mind,” the title track from the new album, where Trucks flew off the handle, so to speak, with a jaw-dropping solo to rally the excitement level and end the show on an extreme high and positive note. To that end, Tedeschi Trucks Band politely dusted themselves off, took their bows and left without much fuss. The Orpheum continued to buzz for a good 10 minutes after.

 

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