Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks certainly know how to give their fans their money’s worth. Having already been treated to long sets by JJ Grey and Mofro and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Red Rocks fans of the blues got to listen to two hours worth of fiery, lyrical guitar solos, soaring, heartbreaking vocals and brilliant keyboards and horns from the Tedeschi Trucks Band in a show that ended well past midnight.
There’s something almost haunting about hearing a band at the top of its game, especially a band that is really at the top of anyone’s game. From the moment that Trucks launched into the gritty guitar riff that opens “Wah Wah,” the massive 11-piece Tedeschi Trucks Band held listeners in thrall as much as themselves, as the group clearly enjoys pushing each other’s musical boundaries.
In this era of guitarists who seem to change instruments on every song, it was also refreshing to see Trucks stick to his beloved Gibson SG for the entire set, while Tedeschi played a Fender Strat for most of the show, except for using her D’Angelico when she wanted to rip an extended solo on “That Did It.”
The band showcased several songs from its forthcoming new album, “Made Up Mind,” which comes on the heels of the Grammy-winning debut album “Revelator,” including the title track and a raring “Miss Understood.”
Trucks’ dizzying slide guitar playing was a centerpiece for much of the night, whether on dreamy passages on “It’s So Heavy” or the extended, swampy solo on “Midnight in Harlem.” While Trucks was clearly the instrumental piece de resistance of the evening, he enjoyed playing off his cohorts, whether it was Kofi Burbridge’s funky keyboard solos on “Bound for Glory” or his wife Susan’s solo turn on the blues standard “The Sky is Crying.” The drummers also took a (thankfully) short solo late in the set
Tedeschi, whose voice has a depth that is virtually unrivaled, shared the vocal spotlight with backing vocalist Mike Mattison on a couple of tunes, especially on a fiery take on the Derek and Dominos’ tune “Anyday” to close the set. Tedeschi also shared verses with Grace Potter on the first encore of “Angel from Montgomery,” which veered into a brief take on the Grateful Dead tune “Sugaree.”
Speaking of Potter, while her voice doesn’t quite have the same depth as Tedeschi’s, her energy and passion could barely be contained at Red Rocks, whether it was on her solo take on “Nothing but the Water,” or a gutsy performance of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.” Wearing what seemed to be basically a sparkly bathrobe, Potter stalked the stage relentlessly, and even ventured into the crowd to shake hands and hugs fans while singing “Medicine.”
Tedeschi Trucks Band setlist
Wah Wah, Don’t Let Me Slide, Made Up Mind, It’s So Heavy, Miss Understood, Bound for Glory, That Did It, I Know, Midnight in Harlem, Nobody’s Free, The Sky is Crying, Old Time Lovin’, Get What You Deserve, Mahjoun, Anyday, E: Angel from Montgomery-> Sugaree-> Angel from Montgomery*, Part of Me, The Storm
*with Grace Potter
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals setlist
Stop the Bus, Some Kind of Ride, Goodbye Kiss, Low Road, Never Go Back, Big White Gate, Devil’s Train, Friend of the Devil, Medicine, Paris (Ooh La La), Stars, The Divide, Nothing but the Water, War Pigs, The Lion The Beast The Beat
JJ Grey and Mofro setlist
99 Shades, Brighter Day, Your Lady, Write a Letter, Hide and Seek, This River, Ho Cake, Lochloosa
Lisa Higginbotham is a Denver photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb. See more of her work here.