Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
The annual four-day concert affair of the Tedeschi Trucks Band at the Orpheum Theatre just may be a thing of the past given the group's first headlining effort in the arena. And once the band – and, as usual, it truly is a band with the main stays being guitarist extraordinaire Derek Trucks and his wife, singer/guitarist Susan Tedeschi – got into high gear, they stayed there for the long run easily making the transition.
It wasn't clear that was going be the case at the outset, getting the night going with Joe Cocker's "Woman to Woman" before tapping into "I Am the Moon" release with "Fall In" and "Hear My Dear." All were delivered competently, but these songs were more fit for other parts of the set, not for setting the tone of the evening. One of the obvious highlights of seeing this band is Truck's guitar playing. It wasn't until well into "Fall In" that we heard some of his exquisite playing.
Soon, the musical magic was underway with Tedeschi singing Wet Willie's "Keep On Smilin'" chestnut underscoring what a vibrant blues singer she is.
But the real turning point of the night came four songs later when ex-Allman Brothers and Gov't Mule guitarist Warren Haynes showed up on stage. The rest of the night almost felt like an ode to the Allmans with covers of "Dreams and "Blue Sky" and keeping the vibe going with the Faces' "Stay With Me."
While Tedeschi Trucks Band leaned into their blues and soul repertoire (backing vocalist Mike Mattison took over on vocals on a number of songs with keyboardist Gabe Dixon also playing a key role), it was the Allmans fix that made the show.
Hayes and Trucks faced off on a number of songs with both fluid, but searing in their delivery. Seeing two master guitar aces go head to head without necessarily trying to outdo the other, but, instead, keep within the framework of the song, simply made for great music. As usual, Trucks adopted a no frills guitar god look.
Tedeschi also got in a few licks of her own on occasion, showing her ample guitar wares, but it's her singing that was more impressive. With an ode to an obvious influence, Bonnie Raitt, Tedeschi opened the three-song encore with "I Can't Make You Love Me" before the upbeat "Bound for Glory" and Dr. John's "I Walk on Guilded Splinters."
Tedeschi Trucks Band may be moving on from smaller venues at least in Tedeschi's hometown. With nights like this, they were most deserving.
Lukas Nelson + Promise of the Real opened and showed Nelson is highly talented in several ways. Touring behind his excellent new release, "Sticks and Stones," Nelson has the singing and musical chops whether it's country, rock or soulful efforts. He started with the title track, one of only three he played from the new disc during his 55-minute stint.
Nelson's guitar playing often gave the songs an added spark while his backing band often added just the right touches, including a healthy dose of keyboards.
After the music ended, Nelson felt compelled to expound upon how happy he was to open the show. With efforts like this, he was telling the truth.