It’s been a long time, been a long time
Been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time
It had been almost 20 months since I’d attended a concert, 591 days to be exact. The Covid era has been cruel in countless ways, but one perhaps less obvious one was the deprivation of live music. I walked into the familiar confines of the ornate Beacon Theater on October 6th feeling starved, ravenous for the musical fulfillment absent for so long, and with stratospheric, wholly unreasonable anticipation that one show could somehow satiate that prolonged void. And yet, as no other existent group could, the mind-blowing Tedeschi Trucks Band still managed to exceed that superhuman expectation. Performing nightly miracles on stage, you see, is basically what they do.
As is their Allman Brothers-inherited custom, momentous and eclectic guest appearances added to the show; on this night there was 80-year-old Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna legend Jorma Kaukonen – whose playing had what a fan behind me described as “gravitas,” and I knew exactly what she meant – and Marcus King, at age 25, the most electrifying young guitarist on the scene today. On most stages or for many shows, those memorable interludes might have been an evening’s highlights. But not when the stage is shared with incomparable talents like Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, and their far-more-than-just-supporting band. Trucks, himself now a wizened 42, was once described (well, by me) as “pure virtuosity,” and while accurate, that clinical truth fails to capture the maelstrom of crackling energy and melodic magic he casually creates with a flick of his guitar slide.
Together, along with their prodigious and indomitable 10-piece band, Tedeschi Trucks simply reaches heights no one else does. And, almost to an exhausting, even ridiculous extent, they return to those dynamic altitudes practically all night long. When the band ascends to their frequent exultant and extended crescendos – the horn section flaring, the backup singers soaring, the dual drummers pounding, the bass stampeding, Tedeschi howling and Trucks in 5-alarm wailing – it’s nothing less than a crush of sonics, a swelling swarm of sound that fully envelops the listener as well as the 2,894-seat theater from whose walls it seems destined to burst through. Trucks is unambiguously peerless among any living guitarists (and, one might argue, historically as well). And as my friend and fellow concert attendee Ike noted of Tedeschi’s breathtaking and glorious singing capacities, her voice might be better than his guitar.
In addition to the stunning, spectacular, at-a-loss-for-superlatives show, Ike also observed me utilizing my 12th row aisle seat for not infrequent forays of air-guitaring and Elaine Benes-like “dancing” – later comparing my seemingly involuntary antics to John Belushi in The Blues Brothers church scene in which Jake had “seen the light.” Though meant in deserved mockery, the comparison is surprisingly apt: hearing Tedeschi Trucks Band after such a painfully long wait was genuinely reaffirming and maybe even spiritual, in ways that they alone can deliver. Their 7-night Beacon residency – the 10th such year of lengthy runs for the band – had been billed plainly as “We’re Back.” If seeing them again did, in fact, somehow signify a return to normal, it’s still in another sense a strangely counterintuitive shift: what the Tedeschi Trucks Band have the unique ability to collectively create is by no means normal, but instead freakishly out of this world.
TTB, in part (there are just too many for this amateur photographer to properly capture)
Me, a bit bleary, with photo credit to my friend and other co-attendee, Petey.
‘Do I Look Worried’ a stellar track off their 2013 release “Made Up Mind,” was on 10/6/21 a mid-set marker, but just one of the 17 remarkable tunes that also included “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” (Bob Dylan) and “Isn’t It A Pity” (George Harrison)