A family affair with Little Feat

By Pete Mauch //

Little Feat //
El Rey Theatre – Los Angeles
September 16th, 2014 //

On a warm Sunday evening in LA, Little Feat took the stage at the El Rey Theatre and played an energetic, diverse set. Little Feat has been on tour supporting their brand-new album Rooster Rag, and the LA-based band closed the tour out on its home turf. You could definitely feel the family vibe in the crowd, and that added to this very special homecoming show.

Little Feat started things off with “Rocket in My Pocket”, which is a song off their 1977 album Time Loves a Hero. It was a perfect fit as the opener because of its groove-oriented jam that seems to build throughout the song. Little Feat wasted no time, playing a new song titled “Just a Fever”, which was written by Little Feat guitarist Paul Barrere. Barrere delivered this song with great passion as he belted out the lyrics with a powerful grit.

The next song showcased the new writing duo of Bill Payne and Robert Hunter, best known as the lyricist for the Grateful Dead. “Rag Top Down” is a nice, bluesy song, and its lyrics invoke the feeling of a long road trip up the coast of California. After the band played two new songs, they treated the crowd with an amazing version of the fan favorite “Fat Man in the Bathtub”. This version was a monster. It incorporated the Captain Beefheart cover “Abba Zaba”, which was sandwiched in between verses, and the song included a very noticeable “Scarlet Begonias” tease, which was most likely a nod to Hunter.

Little Feat then decided to invite the Texicali Horns on stage for a very memorable “Spanish Moon”. This has always been one of my favorite Feat songs, and it did not disappoint, especially with the added horn section. Little Feat then slowed it down and played “One Breath at a Time”. This new song showcased Fred Tackett for the first time of the show. Tackett is a multi-instrumentalist; he plays guitar, mandolin and trumpet for Little Feat. During the song, you could sense the family vibe as Tackett seemed to be serenading his granddaughter in the audience. It was a very touching moment, and it just proves how special a Little Feat show can be.

The next three songs felt like a full-on singalong with a triple-song segue of “Willin” into “Don’t Bogart That Joint” and back to “The Weight”. This was a really fun combo of songs that had guest Jimmy Vivino sitting in on guitar. Sticking to the family vibe, Little Feat then invited Tackett’s son, Miles, from the band Brakestra to the stage to play cello on his dad’s tune “Church Falling Down”.

The band also invited Robben Ford to play guitar. Ford is the uncle of the Little Feat’s new drummer Gabe Ford. Gabe replaced the late great Richie Hayward two years ago after he passed away. Fred Tackett has four songs on the new album, and “Church Falling Down” is my personal favorite. This particular version with Miles Tackett on cello, Robben Ford on guitar and Fred Tackett on mandolin was truly remarkable. The song has a dark feeling to it that makes you think of an old haunted church that is decrepit and ready to fall at any moment, and the cello added to that gloomy feeling.

They ended the set with two powerful songs: the crowd favorite “Dixie Chicken” and “Let It Roll”. Both songs came to life with the horns, and the scene would have given the late Little Feat founder, Lowell George, a smile.

The encore was the icing on the cake. The crowd was treated to a a beautifully wild rendition of “Oh, Atlanta” that capped off a really great night of music. Little Feat played a show full of classic hits, choice covers, fun singalongs and fresh new songs, which proves that they are still pushing the limits after all these years.

Rocket in My Pocket
Just a Fever
Rag Top Down
Fat Man in the Bathtub
Abba Zaba (Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band cover)
Fat Man in the Bathtub
Spanish Moon*
One Breath at a Time*
Don’t Bogart That Joint#
The Weight# (The Band cover)
Church Falling Down@
Rooster Rag*#
Way Down Under
Dixie Chicken#*
Let It Roll*

Oh Atlanta*

* – with Texicali Horns
# – with Jimmy Vivino (guitar and vocals)
@ – with Miles Tackett (cello)

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