Tedeschi Trucks Band are one of those acts that transcend a person’s taste in music. Everyone walks away from a Tedeschi Trucks show with a few moments that resonate with their heart and soul. The coupling of Susan Tedeschi’s powerhouse vocals with husband Derek Trucks’ slide-guitar genius creates a blues-rock masterpiece that will rock you to your soul. And that statement fails to tip my hat to Tedeschi’s beautiful guitar musings.
TTB are big, both in size and sound. The 12-piece band consists of seasoned professionals who understand the kind of collaboration needed to realize the group’s vision. Not a single member sounded flat during a two-night run at the Fox Theater Oakland last Thursday and Friday. Their music was tight yet improvisational, loud yet restrained, powerful yet gentle. Practice and passion have seemingly allowed them to float beautifully in the balance, or in other words, to “ring those lofty bells” as the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir might say. And by the time their Bay Area run was over, they had delivered two solid performances to a grateful and full house.
On Friday night, the group presented “An Evening with Tedeschi Trucks Band”, featuring two full sets and an encore. TTB craft their setlists from the solo careers of Tedeschi and Trucks as well as a couple of their studio albums. They started the night ripping right into “Anyhow”, a standout track off their latest album Let Me Get By, and transitioned into “Don’t Know What It Means”, another on the LP. The energy was palpable from the start as everyone anticipated a sublime night of music.
The “Swamp Raga” opening to their hit “Midnight in Harlem” introduced what would easily be considered the highlight of the first set. This ballad features a tear-jerking performance from Tedeschi as her vocals were nothing less than awe inspiring. A certain calm came over the crowd as everyone softly sang along to her musings. They finished the set strong with “Had to Cry Today” and sent everyone buzzing into the set break.
The rest of the evening was spectacular as the band weaved in and out of both originals and covers, the latter of which included Sleepy John Estes’ “Leaving Trunk”, John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery”, Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” and lastly Joe Cocker’s “Space Captain”, with all of them exemplifying the band’s superb taste and perfect execution. “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” featured high-flying vocals from Chris Robinson, formerly of The Black Crowes and now the driving force behind the Chris Robinson Brotherhood.
Catching an evening of Tedeschi Trucks Band in such a brilliant environment as the Fox was certainly a treat. Fortunately for those not in attendance, the band will be releasing a live LP and DVD to remember the two-night run in Oakland. I am overjoyed at the idea of that I will get to relive this experience as TTB continue to push the sonic boundaries of blues rock. So, don’t sleep on this band — they have something for everyone.
Set 1: Anyhow, Don’t Know What It Means, Keep on Growing (Derek and the Dominos cover), Bird on the Wire (Leonard Cohen cover), Within You Without You (The Beatles cover), Just as Strange, Crying Over You, Swamp Raga (The Derek Trucks Band cover), Midnight in Harlem, Had to Cry Today (Blind Faith cover)
Set 2: These Walls (with Alam Khan on sarod), Right on Time, Leaving Trunk (Sleepy John Estes cover), Don’t Drift Away, I Want More, Soul Sacrifice (Santana cover), Angel From Montgomery (John Prine cover), Sugaree (Jerry Garcia cover), Get What You Deserve (The Derek Trucks Band cover), I Pity the Fool (Bobby “Blue” Bland cover), Bitches Brew (Miles Davis cover), Let Me Get By
Encore: You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (Bob Dylan cover) (with Chris Robinson), Space Captain (Joe Cocker cover) (with Chris Robinson)