Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
orty-six years after the band formed, Mudcrutch finally made its area debut in a show that surged, swelled into a triumphant ending.
There is a reason for the gap between forming and showing up in Beantown. After a lone single on Shelter Records in 1974, the band went onto bigger and better things. And for three-fifths of them, that would be Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, doubtlessly the main reason the generally aging crowd showed up in force.
Mudcrutch released its third release, "2" (its second release was an EP, thus "2" for its second full length) last month. The band combines country, bluegrass, rockabilly and rock.
In fact, they started with a traditional bluegrass tune, "Shady Grove," from their 2008 debut. Easy going, well-paced and a good table setter for the rest of the generous 2:10 hour show.
Mudcrutch kept the rootsy vibe going with the country "Orphan of the Storm" and a cover of Dave Dudley's trucker anthem "Six Days on the Road." There were a number of twists and turns during the set of rock, country, bluegrass (including a self-described "psychedelic bluegrass song, "The Other Side of the Mountain").
At times, the songs could have passed for something you'd hear at a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers show, but the focus clearly was on Mudcrutch as the only Heartbreakers song played the entire night was "Trailer" a B side on a single from "Southern Accents," but also on "2" and released as a single.
Mudcrutch took worthy stabs on Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" and The Byrds' on "Love of the Bayou" with The Byrds a clear influence on Petty.
While the attention clearly was on the very warm and appreciative Petty, he was no by means a stage hog. Heartbreakers Benmont Tench on keyboards and meaty guitarist Mike Campbell were mainstays throughout. Campbell tossed off numerous leads, sometimes steely, sometimes fills, but always with a sense of purpose to the overall dynamics. Tom Leadon took some leads on guitar as well with Randall Marsh setting a typically fast pace on the skins. Without many shows under their belt, they came off as one highly skilled, well-oiled machine.
Tench took lead vocals on several songs, while Campbell offered a good reading of "Victim of Circumstance" from "2") and Leadon also took lead on "The Other Side of the Mountain." None of them are the singer that Petty is with his drawl and command, but it also showed that this is a collaborative effort where the sum of the parts is even greater than the individuals.
That may not have been more apparent on the 15-minute or so first song of the encore, "Crystal River" with excellent musical interplay and the entire band gelling before closing out the night with the rockabilly sizzle of "High School Confidential."
No doubt about it, this ultra-long weight was worth it. Mudcrutch has a future.