Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
he year may have been rapidly drawing to a close for Trampled by Turtles – they had but one show left in 2022 – but they apparently have an unbridle resources in the energy department . The pride of Duluth, Minn. was once again a musical tour de force and more in their bluegrass songs with a few country ditties thrown in.
The beauty of Trampled by Turtles started with the musicianship. Interestingly divided with the three very long-haired members stage right and the others stage left, the long-haired folks carried the night. Enough cannot be said about Erik Berry on mandolin, Dave Carroll on banjo and fiddle player Ryan Young. These three played a more dominant role in the 1 ¾-hours show. Berry's very long hair was often flying in the air as he played with vim and vigor.
And together with the other three band members, Trampled By Turtles was one cohesive, integrated musical unit that played with abandon, while also having a sense of direction of where the songs were heading. Cellist Eamonn MacLain, even in very small spurts, seemed to add just the right touch in filling out the sound. No one was a particular stage hog for very long either as this was a band that spread the spotlight around early and often.
That was true in their reading of the instrumental "Truck," which was then followed (one has to see the humor at least in the one-two punch of the song titles) by "On the Highway." The intensity of the entire band's performance was palpable.
Just when you wondered how many propulsive songs TBT could play, they toned it down for stretches of the second half of the show. That , too, served them well. Lead singer Dave Simonett knows his way around a ballad (the very pretty country song "Whiskey") just as he does amongst the high velocity material. A lot of similarly-styled bands seem to put most of their cache in the musicianship, but the high and clean vocal mix throughout served TBT well.
Simonett took care of lead vocals on all, but one song, a cover of Warren Zevon's "Keep Me In Your Heart," the first of three encore songs. The very clean cut looking acoustic bassist Tim Saxhaug assumed the duties and was more than capable.
Trampled by Turtles closed out the regular set with "The Party's Over," a story about an aging musician who has seen better days. The song also closes their new album "Alpenglow," which was produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. TBT may be aging, but with shows like this, this group seems to only get better with age.
Or to put it another way, Simonett sang the banjo-filled "All the Good Times Are Gone," earlier in the set. For sure, he was not talking about the joy that Trampled by Turtles.
Langhorne Slim was his usual hoot self in his opening 45-minut solo set. He was never better in his take on "Song for Sid," a song dedicated to his late grandfathers, which he said he sings every night. For all of his humorous shtick and offbeat out there stories, there was no joking as the memories of his loved ones rung true. Even in a setting this setting with maybe a few thousand people in the house, Langhorne Slim connected with his audience both through his song and his interactions.